UPDATE (Philippines): Court’s review in Abadilla Five petition lacks transparency


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-030-2009
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Arbitrary arrest & detention, Judicial system,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you of the lack of transparency by the Supreme Court (SC) in hearing the petition of the Abadilla Five. The petition, which sought to declare as null and void their conviction for murder, suffered further delay due to the lack of transparency and arbitrary court procedures. The SC has resolved to consolidate the separate appeals without the knowledge of, or asking the opinions of their lawyers.


In our previous appeal (UAU-059-2008), we mentioned that two of the Abadilla Five detainees, Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos, have filed their Petition for Review on Certiorari on May 5, 2008. The Supreme Court’s (SC) Third Division at the time laid out a requirement for the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment, giving them until the first week of August 2008 to submit it.

While Lumanog and Santos filed their petitions to the SC, the three other detainees, Cesar Fortuna, Rameses de Jesus and Joel de Jesus, pursued other legal strategies in filing their respective appeals. They were represented by different lawyers.

The OSG’s comment on the petitions of Lumanog and Santos was first due on August 2008, but for two occasions in July and September 2008, they have sought to extend the deadline in submitting comments further delaying the conclusion of the review. On one such occasion, the SC granted the OSG’s request for extension without giving their lawyer, Atty. Soliman Santos, the opportunity to challenge or question the merit of their request.

On Fortuna’s part, he filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which sought for the Court of Appeals (CA) to reconsider its decision convicting them. His appeal, with Case. No. GR 185123, was later elevated to the SC. The conclusion of Fortuna’s appeal with the SC has also suffered further delay when the OSG, once again, sought an extension in submitting their comment on four occasions until May 2009.

On the part of Rameses and Joel de Jesus, their appeals have also suffered further delay. Their case, No. CA-GR CR-HC 00667, was only elevated to the SC after the CA issued its resolution on May 20, 2009 rejecting their appeals. It was only at that time the SC took jurisdiction of their case.

Since Lumanog and Santos’ Petition for Certiorari was filed in May 2008, the SC failed to conclude their petition despite having it filed much earlier than other detainees. However, even before the SC could conclude theirs, it has ruled to consolidate their petition to the appeals of the other detainees without properly informing promptly or asking the comments of their legal counsel, Soliman Santos.

Also, when the SC En Banc issued its resolution on June 23, 2009 resolving to consolidate all the appeals, lawyer Santos has also not been aware of their resolution until August 2009. The SC’s resolution was in response to the OSG’s request made on June 17, 2009 seeking to have it consolidated for reasons that “the petitioners in both cases are the same accused charged with and found guilty”.

After lawyer Santos learned of the OSG’s request for consolidation, he made a submission vehemently opposing it on July 1, 2009, citing questions of legality without knowing that the SC has in fact already ruled on it on June 23, 2009. His opinion has effectively not been considered as a result of this.

The SC has not yet concluded the review of all the petitions made.

Please write letters expressing your concern regarding this case; or respond to previous appeals that we have issued by accessing the Abadilla Five’s campaign website: Convicted without real review – http://campaigns.ahrchk.net/abadilla5/

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-030-2009
Countries : Philippines,
Campaigns : Abadilla 5
Issues : Administration of justice, Arbitrary arrest & detention, Judicial system,