[Re: AHRC-UAC-071-2010: PHILIPPINES: Police arbitrarily detained protesting farmers and filed legally incoherent charges against them]
Despite of our appeal, the Office of the Ombudsman also exonerated the policemen, who were responsible in filing a charge for “serious resistance and disobedience” on seven farmers and four minors, from liability for ignorance of the law. The charge that the police filed does not exist in the list of criminal offenses under the penal code.
DETAILS OF TERMINATED CASES:
In our previous appeal (AHRC-UAC-071-2010), we asked the Ombudsman to intervene into the police action for filing “legally incoherent (charges) and lacking legal justification” against the seven farmers, four of whom are minors, whom they arbitrarily arrested and detained for holding protest in Calamba City, Laguna on May 21, 2010.
The policemen who filed the criminal complaint were: Police Senior Inspector (PSI) Jaime Pederio Jr, Senior Police Officer 2 (SP02) Herbert Mendoza, Police Officer 2 (P02) Lily Ann Deris and P02 Magtagad, all of them are attached to the Calamba City Police Office (CCPO) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
We argued that one of the six criminal offenses listed in their criminal complaint: “serious resistance and disobedience” in the process of the inquest proceedings against the farmers and the four minors, does not exist in the list of criminal offenses under the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The police also included the two minors, aged 15 and 12 years, in the complaint when they should have been “exempted from criminal liability” under section 6 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (Republic Act 9344). And, the two other minors, both 16 years of age, have not undergone a thorough assessment to establish whether or not they had “acted with discernment” that would allow continuing the prosecution.
JUSTIFYING THE CLOSURE:
In his letter dated December 21, 2010, Danilo Rimonte, graft prevention and control officer of the Office of the Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO), terminated the AHRC’s complaint exonerating the four policemen from any liability. In his Final Report (full text) he narrated that:
“To validate the foregoing assertions, this Office requested for a complete set of the case records, from the City Prosecutor, Calamba City. (Record, p. 04)
In compliance, the Hon. Miguel T. Ocampo furnished this Office with the four (4) sets of documents under the following NPS Docket Numbers:
1. IV-12-INQ-10E-00313: Inquest proceedings charging the seven (7) farmers and four (4) minors for: Grave Coercion, Direct Assault, Alarm and Scandal, Serious Resistance and Disobedience and Obstruction of Justice.
The disposition of the inquest proceeding resulted in the finding of no probable cause and the ordering for the immediate release of two (2) respondents identified as Francisca C. Mangubat, 71 years old and Annabel C. Natanauan, 28 years old and, for the turn-over of the four (4) respondent-minors to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). (Record, pp.06-12)”
In concluding his report, he argued that:
“From the foregoing case-records, the following facts are made evident:
1. Charges and counter charges were both filed by and between the private and public complainants/respondents where the cases are undergoing preliminary investigation/
2. The Calamba City Prosecutors’ Office had already taken cognizance of the cases thus, the determination of probable cause against either of the parties is vested upon the said Office. Considering that the charges against the public officers are in fact connected with the performance of their respective duties and responsibilities, the Calamba City Prosecutors’ Office is mandated to forward the Resolution to this Office for review and approval, pursuant to the OMB-DOJ Memorandum of Agreement.
Thus, AHRC’s request for investigation is already being undertaken by the Calamba City Prosecutors’ Office whose findings shall be submitted to this Office for review and approval.
3. Worthy of note is the finding of “no probable cause” against two (2) of the private respondents (farmers) and the four (4) minors as established by the Calamba City Prosecutors’ Office. (Record, p. 6) Thus no “legally incoherent charges” were filed against them.”
COMMENTS: “IGNORANT POLICE MUST BE HELD LIABLE“
The AHRC is aware that once the prosecutor found “no probable cause” in the criminal complaint filed by the policemen, in this case, the prosecutor’s disposition in the inquest (No. IV-12-INQ-10E-00313), the respondents have no case to answer in court; and that if they are detained they must be released.
However, the AHRC’s concern was not solely on the filing of charges lacking sufficient evidence, but also the filing of criminal complaint by the policemen that does not exist in the list of criminal offense, in this case: “serious resistance and disobedience”.
Therefore, the disposition of the prosecutor that the farmers could not be prosecuted does not absolve the policemen from their ignorance of filing a non-existent criminal offence. But the Ombudsman nevertheless exonerated by closing and terminating the complaint. They also neither take any action on this matter nor mentioned about what further action they would be taking on this matter.
Thus, the Ombudsman had effectively exonerated the policemen who were ignorant of the law from any liability for their ignorance of the criminal law. The same policemen who were responsible in the arbitrary arrest, detention and filing of charges against the farmers that are not only non-existent but lacks evidence for prosecution.
The AHRC also expressed concern about the inclusion of two minors, aged 12 and 15, in the criminal complaint when in fact they could have not been legally included under section 6 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006. They were exempted them from criminal liability because of their age. The Ombudsman also did not take any action on this matter.
And even if the two other minors, both age 16, could be legally prosecuted, there were no information provided by the police on whether or not they subjected to thorough assessment in order to establish that they had “acted with discernment” in the commission of the offense, as required by the R.A. 9344. These are very important for the prosecutors in determining the probable cause and criminal liability.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)
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