Lacson Cites Supreme Court ruling.(Main News)

Article excerpt

Byline: GABRIEL S. MABUTAS

Sen. Panfilo Lacson claimed victory yesterday in the ruling of the Supreme Court remanding his case to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court for decision on a petition of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to reopen the murder case against him and 37 other police officers for their alleged involvement in 1995 Kuratong Baleleng case.

He said the High Tribunal upheld their point that the prescriptive period for rendering a trial court's decision on criminal cases such as theirs is two years.

The Department of Justice (DoJ), through the Office of the Solicitor General, had earlier argued before the High Court that the case could still be revived since criminal cases similar to that of the Kuratong Baleleng have a prescriptive period of 20 years.

Its argument formed part of their appeal to reverse an earlier ruling of a Court of Appeals special division, which declared a Quezon City Regional Trial Court's dismissal of the cases against Lacson and others, final.

The Appellate Court held that the prescriptive period for appeal of criminal cases is two years.

"I just don't understand why Justice Secretary (Hernando) Perez claims victory in the decision when we were the ones who scored in the legal battle," Lacson said.

He said the Supreme Court decided the case fairly when it clarified that the Amended Rules of Court on Criminal Procedure applies to his case.

Section 8, Rule 117, the senator stressed, provides for a two-year prescriptive period for appeal of a criminal case before the finality of a trial court's decision.

Lacson explained that the Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court and ordered it to determine if all the requirements for the prescription period have been met to make its decision final.

"Now, we will just have to prove that the requirements have been met, and show that the prescriptive period had started and finally lapsed before the DoJ moved for the revival of the case against me. The trial court decided the case sometime between March 27 to 29, 1999, and the prosecution tried to revive it only in April 2001, when the prescriptive period had already expired," he said.

Lacson also defended his political allies for criticizing the Supreme Court earlier for its decision, saying they just failed to get accurate information on it.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, branded the SC decision a "cop-out", saying "it did not resolve anything."

"By throwing back the issue to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, the High Court did not live up to its role as the final arbiter of legal issues. …