Monday, April 27, 2009

For the Record: the Subic Rape Case Decision

The Court of Appeals Decision in the Subic Bay Rape Case   has kindly been supplied to me by Atty. Joan de Venecia and I have uploaded it in PDF format to the Internet Archive for safekeeping and historical purposes.  The Accused-Appellant's  appeal of the Pozon ruling of "guilty" is also here. The 71-page decision acquitting the accused appellant  was penned by Associate Justice Monina Arevalo Zenarosa and concurred in by Associate Justices Remedios S. Fernando and Myrna Dimaranan Vidal -- all Lady Justices of the Court of Appeals who have recently been unfairly attacked and maligned by bloggers who indubitably had NOT read this decision, which memorably declares:
"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.

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