On the first day of session at the Lower House last Monday, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano formally declared a vacancy for the lone district of Benguet. Instead of calling for special elections pursuant to Republic Act 6645, he appointed ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap as caretaker of Benguet after the death of Rep. Nestor Fongwan, Sr.
The appointment of a caretaker congressman does not bar the House from calling a special election to select a replacement. Dr. Cosme A. Galasgas, Jr., a pulmonologist with extensive practice in Baguio and Benguet, encourages the officialdom and people of Benguet to double their effort to convince the Speaker and Congress to allow the electorate to have their own congressman with a clear mandate. Better still, he should consider throwing himself to the fray and give Tagel a run for his money. The province can have a “healing congressman” in tandem with a physician governor.
The Department of Justice panel of prosecutors that reinvestigated the 2013 ninja cops case found former Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde, who was then the Pampanga police chief, liable for graft for influencing another public officer to commit an unlawful act.
Based on the testimony of retired General Aaron Aquino, now head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the DOJ panel found that Albayalde requested the PDEA chief not to implement an order to dismiss 12 of his former subordinates for allowing a drug lord to escape in exchange for P10 million and 200 kilograms of shabu after a drug raid in Pampanga six years ago.
Based on the alleged “pakiusap,” Aquino withheld the recommendation to junk a 2016 motion for reconsideration filed by the respondent officers which, in effect, affirmed a 2014 order penalizing them. Ultimately the order was implemented and some were even “thrown” to posts in far-flung areas of Mindanao. Clearly, Aquino was not “influenced” by the request of the ex-PNP chief.
Albayalde, like a true and caring leader of his people, purportedly inquired on the status of his men because the families of the officers asked for his help. It is not a crime, but a Filipino custom to help others in need. It is a tradition inherited from our Spanish ancestors passed on from generations, “como un vicio social que se ha vuelto incurable” – a social vice that has become incurable. Whoever will say that at one time or another in his life to have never asked friends, politicians, generals, media, congressmen, senators, or justices to intervene from the petty driver’s license to contracts or ad solicitation would be a hypocrite.
I remember authoring in the city council a resolution declaring one PNP Colonel Lim or something as persona non grata for manipulating to transfer now retired traffic cop SPO3 Albert Tadeo to Apayao.
Bert apprehended the nincompoop police driver at the Baguio City Public Market for coding violation and the kneejerk reaction of his boss was to punish Bert with a transfer. Immediately in the afternoon, Lim’s mistah and former boss, who must be similarly minded, visited me in my City Hall office to plead for me to withdraw the resolution as the colonel was about to be promoted to a star rank and it would look bad in his folio. I did not know Lim from Adam, but knew the mistah, but since the issue became moot when Bert was returned to Baguio, I acceded. “Lo que es bueno para uno es bueno para el otro”– what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
The charge against the former PNP chief, whom I also do not know, must be a violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act 3019, which punishes “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations.” Even a first year Law student would know there is no crime of graft if the accused did not receive “any consideration or material benefit.” There can be no violation of Section 3(a) of RA 3019 if it is not alleged and established that there is a receipt of or at least an expectation to receive any consideration in the use of influence.
Section 3(a) makes no mention of receiving something in return for the illegal act. It only says,“Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.” In fact, the law is clear that assuming there is an indictment, Aquino should also be charged with Albayalde, ‘di ba? This is in keeping up with the spirit of the law and not the letter of it.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group relied on the allegations made in the one-man Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which even President Rodrigo Duterte (a former fiscal), and presidential legal counsel Sal Panelo branded as mostly “hearsay.” Albayalde could not even be criminally accountable for the actions of his subordinates under the “theory of command responsibility” because no Philippine law provides for criminal liability under this doctrine: “Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege” – “No crime without law.” One cannot be punished for doing something that is not prohibited by law.
Albayalde will fleetingly walk from the charge, and the rebound should be interesting. Karma is a bitch.
Factual “science” has proven that the strawberry fields in La Trinidad, Benguet does not get its water source from the Balili River and the truth has come out. Follow Napoleon Bonaparte’s advice not to disrupt or interrupt an enemy making a mistake.
Patalastas. The EMA Law Office, which is accredited to conduct the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) program, in line with the duty of lawyers to keep themselves abreast with legal developments, maintains the ethics of the profession, and enhances the standards of the practice of law.
Pursuant to Bar Matter 850, the E.M. Avila Law Office has secured accreditation from the Supreme Court to conduct the MCLE program from March 24 to 27 at the Baguio Country Club. Slots are limited. Details are available at emavilalaw.com or through Jane at 443-5530. This is our 7th MCLE, which starting way back 2011. Quality legal education at its best.