PHILIPPINES: Abadilla Five to appeal Supreme Court’s affirmation of guilty verdict


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-037-2010
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Judicial system, Torture,

Dear friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) deeply regrets to inform you that the Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the guilty verdict on the Abadilla Five. The SC affirmed the earlier decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) which imposed a penalty of life imprisonment on them. The accused will be filing a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) to ask the SC to reconsider its decision. 


As mentioned in our previous appeal AHRC-UAU-030-2009, we have already raised concerns as to the lack of transparency and the long delay on part of the Supreme Court to resolve the Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Abadilla Five filed on May 5, 2008. 

On September 7, 2010, the SC issued its 56-page decision, by a vote of 10-4, upholding the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) on April 1, 2008 convicting the five accused–Lenido Lumanog, Augusto Santos, Cesar Fortuna, Rameses de Jesus and Joel de Jesus, guilty for the murder of Col. Rolando Abadilla in June 13, 1996.

The SC ruling was learned by the accused’s legal counsel only on September 15, 2010.

The SC held that the Positive Identification by Freddie Alejo, the lone witness of the case, of the accused “is sufficient to support a conviction for murder against appellants”. The SC relied heavily on Alejo’s testimony. In ruling against questions to the credibility of Alejo’s identification after Lorenzo delos Santos, another accused who he also claimed to have positively identified but who was acquitted in August 11, 1999, the SC ruled: 

This assertion is untenable. A verdict of acquittal is immediately final; hence, we may no longer review the acquittal of accused Lorenzo delos Santos. However, the acquittal of their co-accused does not necessarily benefit the appellants. We have ruled that accused-appellant may not invoke the acquittal of the other conspirator.” 

Two of the Justices, Antonio Carpio and Roberto Abad; however gave dissenting opinions in voting against the SC majority decision. 

In Justice Carpio’s opinion he argued that; 

In view of the gross violations of the accused’s constitutional rights as well as the seriously flawed identification of the accused as the perpetrators of the crime, there is sufficient reason to doubt the accused’s guilt for the crime charged“. 

In Justice Abad’s opinion he also argued that; 

Those who saw the daylight shooting of Colonel Abadilla did not know the assassins by face. How the police got to identify and pick up the particular accused in this case from their homes or places of work to be shown to the witnesses as their prime suspects is a mystery that the prosecution did not bother to tell the trial court“. 

Under the Rules of Court, the Abadilla Five would have 15 days to file a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) upon receipt of the SC decision. The SC’s decision can only be final and executory when the appellant foregoes filing a motion or that their motion would be subsequently dismissed by the SC. 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-037-2010
Countries : Philippines,
Campaigns : Abadilla 5
Issues : Administration of justice, Judicial system, Torture,