By LEONARD D. POSTRADO (Manila Bulletin)
November 4, 2012, 9:26pm
MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has thumbed down the request of eight Parañaque policemen involved in the shootout with the Waray-Waray Ozamis robbery gang in December 2008 that killed at least two civilians, one of whom was a minor, to recall the arrest warrants it issued against them.
In a nine-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the CA’s Former Eighth Division also denied the respondent cops’ motion for reconsideration seeking a reversal of the appeals court’s June 15, 2012 decision ordering their arrest, in connection with the killing of 53-year-old seaman Alfonso “Jun” de Vera and his seven-year-old daughter, Lia.
The two were killed in a crossfire between cops and robbers, of which the respondent police officers mistaken De Vera as one of the robbery suspects.
The CA upheld its decision directing the Paranaque regional trial court-Branch 260 to reinstate the criminal complaints for two counts of murder against respondents – Police Chief Insp. Lawrence Cajipe, P/CInsp. Joel Mendoza, P/Incp. Gerardo Balacutan, PO3 Jolito Mamanao Jr., PO3 Fernando Rey Gapuz, PO2 Eduardo Blanco, PO2 Edwin Santos and PO1 Josil Rey Lucena – since the respondents failed to raise new arguments in their motion to warrant a reversal of its ruling.
It also junked the letter addressed to the division clerk of court and urgent motion to quash the warrants of arrest and/or motion to suspend the implementation of the warrants of arrest contained in the CA’s June 15 decision.
The letter was filed by respondents’ private counsel, Hector Purisima Corpus on June 22, or just a week after the CA rendered its ruling, in which he argued that the Court cannot validly issue a warrant of arrest in a certiorari proceeding under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, as the function of a writ of certiorari is to keep an inferior court within the bound of its jurisdiction or to prevent it from committing a grave abuse of discretion.
Purisima claimed that the CA should have directed the respondent RTC judge to issue the warrants of arrest instead of issuing them through the Division clerk of court.
But the CA agreed with the Office of the Solicitor General, which stated in its comment that there must be a full-blown trial of the case to enable the trial court to rule on factual issues.
The OSG also pointed out that when the police officers were arraigned before the trial court on July 19, they effectively waived their perceived errors pertaining to the CA’s June 15 decision, when they entered a plea of not guilty, thereby submitting themselves to the jurisdiction of the trial court and curing any defect in their arrest.
The appellate court further held that Section 9 of the Batas Pambansa 129, or the Judiciary Reorganization Act, in relation to Section 12, vests authority to the CA to issue auxiliary writs or processes, among others, whether or not in aid of its appellate jurisdiction.
“Interestingly, this authority to issue a warrant of arrest does not make any qualification or distinction as to what action, whether criminal, civil or special proceedings, it may be applied. Thus, a petition for certiorari is undoubtedly included in this class. It is elementary that when a law or rule does not make a distinction or qualification, none can be made,” the CA held.
Concurring with Tijam were Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Edwin Sorongon.
Based on court records, Cajipe and his men were among the 25 cops who were initially charged before the Department of Justice for the shooting incident, which took place on December 5, 2008 at the United Parañaque Subdivision IV, West Service Road. The shooting also resulted in the killing of 14 robbery suspects.
The DOJ gave credence to the affidavits of eyewitnesses who claimed that De Vera and her daughter were not killed during the shootout between the 25 accused and the robbers.
In fact, there was no exchange of fire as the policemen were in complete control of the area where the two were killed.
When De Vera alighted from the van to carry her daughter to safety, the policemen followed him and pumped 80 bullets in his head and body.
In the complaint filed by De Vera’s wife, the policemen were alleged to have violated the PNP’s rules of engagement that led to the death of her husband and daughter.