"As in this case, a careful and judicious perusal of the evidence on record does not convince the prudent mind about the moral certainty of the guilt of the accused, hence, we must acquit. To the point of triteness, it has been repeatedly stressed that in this jurisdiction, accusation is not synonymous with guilt and that this has still to be proved beyond reasonable doubt."No clearer affirmation can be had from the three Lady Justices tasked to rule on the appealed RTC decision, that they approached this case determined to uphold the Principle of the Presumption of Innocence, -- to find within their own "prudent minds" a "moral certainty of the guilt of the accused" and "that this has still to be proved beyond reasonable doubt" or else "we must acquit." It is worthy of note that the Court disregarded the "alleged recantation" of Nicole, in coming to its decision. The Court fundamentally agreed with the appellant on the salient point we have also been discussing here at Filipino Voices:
Accusation is not, according to the fundamental law, synonymous with guilt, the prosecution must overthrow the presumption of innocence with proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. To meet this standard, there is need for the most careful scrutiny of the testimony of the State, both oral and documentary, independently of whatever defense is offered by the accused. Only if the judge below and the appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on trial under such an exacting test should the sentence be one of conviction. It is thus required that every circumstance favoring innocence be duly taken into account. The proof against him must survive the test of reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment.
Although the criminal case is now water under the bridge, I think there are many lessons yet to be learned from the emotional public discourse and heated political atmosphere that surrounded this case from the very beginning. However, I shall leave that profitable and salutary task to others.