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Aquino vs. Military Commission and Gumaua vs. Case

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  G.R. No. L-37364 May 9, 1975 BENIGNO S. AQUINO, JR., petitioner, vs. MILITARY COMMISSION 2, CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, and SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE, THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT, and SECRETARY OF JUSTICE,  *   respondents. Facts : In September 1972, after the declaration of Martial Law, Ninoy was arrested and was placed under custody. He was brought to Fort Bonifacio. He filed for the issuance of the Writ of Habeas Corpus which was denied by the SC. Aquino then questioned the validity of such denial and the declaration of martial law; at the same time he questioned the authority of the military court [No. 2] created [pursuant to GO 2-A] to try him and his other companions. He was being charged for illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives. He was also being charged for violation of the Anti-Subversion Act and for murder. All were filed before the military court. Aquino argued that the military court had no jurisdiction because civilian courts were still operational and that, being a civilian, his trial by a military commission deprives him of his right to due process. When the proceedings before the MilitaryCommission opened, petitioner questioned thefairness of the trial and announced that he did not wish to participate in the proceedings even as he discharged both his defense counsel of choice and his military defense counsel. For the petitioner's assurance, a Special Committee was created to reinvestigate the charges against petitioner. Petitioner filed supplemental petition questioning the legality of the creation of the Special Committee. On March 24, 1975, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order Against Military Commission No. 2 ; praying that said Commission be prohibited from proceeding with the perpetuation of testimony under its Order dated March 10, 1975, the same being illegal, until further orders from the Supreme Court Issue : Whether or not Aquino was afforded due process in a military court. Held : YES. According to Schwartz, “The immunity of civilians from military jurisdiction must, however, give way in areas governed by martial law. When it is absolutely imperative for public safety, legal processes can be superseded and military tribunals authorized to exercise the jurisdiction normally vested in court.”    Neither are We impressed with petitioner’s argument that only thru a judicial proceeding before the regular courts can his right to due process be preserved. The guarantee of due process is not a guarantee of any particular form of tribunal in criminal cases. A military tribunal of competent jurisdiction, accusation in due form, notice and opportunity to defend and trial before an impartial tribunal, adequately meet the due process requirement. Due process of law does not necessarily means a judicial proceeding in the regular courts. The guarantee of due process, viewed in its procedural aspect, requires no particular form of procedure. It implies due notice to the individual of the proceedings, an opportunity to defend himself    and “the problem of the propriety of the deprivations, under the circumstances presented, must be resolved in a manner consistent with essential fairness.” It means essentially a fair and impartial trial and reasonable opportunity for the preparation of defense. Here, the procedure before the Military Commission, as prescribed in Presidential Decree No. 39 which is was promulgated on November 7,1972, providing for the Rules Governing the Creation, Composition, Jurisdiction, Procedure and Other Matters Relevant to Military Tribunals ,” assures observance of the fundamental requisites of procedural due process, due notice, an essentially fair and impartial trial and reasonable opportunity for the preparation of the defense Section 11 of the Manual for Courts- Martial specifically provides that the “rules of evidence generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the courts of the Philippines shall be applied by courts- martial.” This is applicable to trials in the military commission . There is, therefore, no justification for petitioner’s contention that such military tribunals are concerned primarily with the conviction of an accused and that proceedings therein involve the complete destruction and abolition of petitioner’s c onstitutional rights. This is not, however, to preclude the President from considering the advisability of the transfer of these cases to the civil courts, as he has previously announced.  G.R. No. L-36188-37586 February 29, 1980 ROQUE GUMAUA, petitioner, vs MAJOR GENERAL ROMEO ESPINO, in his capacity as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and MILITARY COMMISSION NO. 2, respondent. Facts: In 1972, a Chinaman was kidnapped by allegedly the group of a certain Sgt. Cordova. During the investigation, Sgt. Cordova and Mr. Co told the investigators that the victim was in a house in a barrio in San Clements, Tarlac The accused, accompanied by the NBI agents, pointed to the house where the victim was being kept. Said house was owned by herein petitioner, Roque Gumaua, who used to be a co-soldier of Sgt. Aguinaldo Cordova in Camp Olivas. Upon entering the house, the NBI agents found the victim inside a big cage in the ground floor of the house. Guarding him was accused Rodrigo Halasan, a long-time friend of petitioner Gumaua. After surveillance, Gumaua’s house was raided and he was arrested. Si nce martial law was being imposed at that time, Gumaua was held under the custody and trial of the military court [No. 2]. Gumaua then petitioned for prohibition and mandamus with restraining order and preliminary injunction against Major General Romeo Espino as Chief of Staff of the AFP and Military Commission No. 2, challenging the validity of the creation and jurisdiction over him as a civilian of respondent Military Commission No. 2. He filed for habeas corpus and averred that (a) military tribunals cannot try civilians if civil courts are open; (b) the President cannot deprive the civil courts of their jurisdiction to try criminal cases involving civilians; (c) as a civilian, he is entitled even during Martial Law to his constitutional right to counsel during the preliminary investigation, to be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts only upon his arrest or voluntary submission; and (d) General Order No. 12-A defining the jurisdiction of the military commissions has not been validated by the New Constitution which has not been ratified by a plebiscite, as the referendum hold pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 86 was not sufficiently complied with the amending process prescribed by the 1935 Constitution, which process is binding on the people ISSUE: Whether or not Gumaua can be validly tried before the military court. HELD: The SC first and foremost affirmed that the declaration of martial law is valid. The 1973 Constitution has been validly ratified by the sovereign people and is now in full force and effect. Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law is valid. That the proclamation of martial law automatically suspends the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus. That the President of the Philippines, “as Commander -in-Chief and as enforcer or administrator of martial law, . . . can promulgate proclamations, orders and decrees during the period of martial law essential to the security and preservation of the Republic, to the defense of the political and social liberties of the people, and to the institution of reforms to prevent the resurgence of rebellion or insurrection or secession or the threat thereof as well as to meet the impact of a worldwide recession, inflation or economic crisis which presently threatens all nations including highly developed countries . . .” . That the President of the Philippines, as legislator during the period of martial law, can legally create military commissions or courts martial to try, not only members of the armed forces, but also civilian offenders, for specified offenses including kidnapping.  And finally, there is likewise ample proof that Sgt. Aguinaldo Cordova and Sgt. Barbelonio Casipi, co-accused of petitioners in the kidnapping charge, belonged to the armed forces at the time of the commission of the crime, in much the same way that the evidence demonstrates that petitioner Gumaua himself is a retired PC non-commissioned officer. Consequently, the trial of petitioners Gumaua and Halasan before the respondent Military Commission No. 2, along with the two other accused who were members of the Armed Forces is valid under General Orders Nos. 8.

Capital Punishment

Jul 23, 2017
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