UPDATE (Philippines): Supreme Court must act promptly to petition for review to an appeal court’s decision affirming conviction


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-029-2008
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Institutional reform, Judicial system, Right to fair trial, Rule of law,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that following the Court of Appeals (CA) conclusion of its appellate review affirming the conviction imposed by a lower court on the Abadilla Five, the lawyers for the accused are seeking to nullify the CA’s decision on April 1. They filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari before the Supreme Court (SC) today, May 5.


On April 1, 2008 the Court of Appeals (CA) 16th Division has affirmed the eight-year-old decision by a Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City convicting the five accused for capital punishment. However, since Death Penalty has already been abolished by the government in 2006, the CA modified the punishment into reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment without the benefit of parole.

The CA’s 16-paged decision (full text), released by associate justice Agustin Dizon and agreed upon by two other associate justices, namely Regalado Maambong and Cecilia Librea-Leagogo, has been received by lawyer Soliman Santos, legal counsel for two of the accused on April 18.

The conclusion of the appellate review has long been overdue. It took over eight years to complete the review. However, while the CA completed its review within a relatively short span of period compared to other eight justices who has handled the case, the manner by which it was conducted has not been sufficient and it is ineffective. There are also serious questions of merits and legality of the decision.

It is learned that the CA has actually failed to deal into the arguments by the defense written in their appellants’ brief (full text) in October 2003. (Please also see the AHRC’s statement in this regard: AHRC-STM-108-2008)

Also, the CA had in fact plagiarized, instead of thoroughly reviewing the merits of the case, the arguments and citations made by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which was written in their appellee’s brief in May 2004.

At around 11:12am today, the accused and their legal counsels’ Petition for Review on Certiorari (full text) has been filed and was docketed as G.R. No. 182555. In their petition, they have mentioned several numbers of pages of the plagiarized arguments by the CA. The CA’s decision, however, has been the gist of the accused’s appeal that could proved their innocence had its merits been looked into thoroughly by the CA in their review.

Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, appeal by Certiorari maybe filed by a party desiring to appeal a judgment by Court of Appeals (CA), amongst others, when there are “questions of law” from the judgment or order imposed. Apart from that, the accused and legal counsel are also requesting the SC to resolve the appellate review and not to send the case back to the CA.

Meanwhile, the AHRC has also learned that Rudy Diamante of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care under the Catholic Bishops Conference of the of the Philippines (CBCP), has already contacted the legal counsel of Lenido Lumanog regarding earlier appeals seeking for their intervention. It was later reported that concrete actions have already been made.

In 27 March 2008, the intervention by the ECPPC’s head, Bishop Pedro Arigo, has been sought requesting their assistance for the medical welfare of Lenido whose health condition continue to deteriorate. (For details please read: AHRC-UAU-014-2008). The ECPPC has had previous interventions made to prisoners suffering from illness and has been involved in advocacy on prison conditions.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-029-2008
Countries : Philippines,
Campaigns : Abadilla 5
Issues : Administration of justice, Institutional reform, Judicial system, Right to fair trial, Rule of law,