Press Release
May 9, 2011


DRILON: I am totally disappointed with the decision of the Sandiganbayan approving the plea bargain but I'm not surprised and I expected it, because when they allowed Gen. Carlos Garcia to enter a plea on a much lesser offense which is bribery and allowed him to post bail, it only means that plunder has been withdrawn and this withdrawal is based on the terms of the compromise agreement. Effectively, when they allowed Garcia to plead guilty to a lesser offense and granted him bail, in effect, they approved already the deal. That's why I'm not surprised but nevertheless I am totally disappointed. The remedy of the government is to bring it up to the Supreme Court and ask the SC to void the plea bargaining agreement. There is a precedent on this: the acquittal of Gen. Ver et al because of the case arising from the assassination of Sen. Ninoy Aquino, was reversed by the SC and the SC overruled the plea of double jeopardy. I would urge the Solicitor General to bring this up to the SC. I have read of the motion for intervention of the Solicitor General and there is merit to the grounds that they have ascertained, including the fact that no consent was given by the Department of Justice and the Solicitor General particularly on this issue.

Q: Can they use the findings and recommendations of the Senate?

DRILON: Certainly. This was extensively discussed in the Senate. The Senate proceedings were public and these were public records. Garcia appeared, assisted by counsel, in the Senate. Ombudsman appeared and there were full hearings in the Senate. They can certainly use this as basis, including the negligence of the special prosecutors in failing to oppose the arraignment of Gen. Garcia on a lesser crime. In other words, the government should not be prejudiced by the incompetence of the special prosecutors in failing to oppose the arraignment for a lesser offense of Gen. Carlos Garcia. The principle in law is that the state cannot be bound by the incompetence of its agents.

Q: Na establish ba sa hearing ang preponderance of evidence against Garcia?

DRILON: No, we did not talk about preponderance of evidence against Garcia. In the hearings, we talked about the validity of the plea bargain agreement and the failure of the prosecutors to oppose in a timely manner the plea to a lesser offense. In fact, Senate President Enrile cited the incompetence of the special prosecutors. Indeed, the Solicitor General can assert that the government cannot be bound by the incompetence of these prosecutors in arguing against the plea of double jeopardy. This is what Gen. Carlos Garcia will invoke in any appeal at the Sandiganbayan by the government.

Q: Sir nag promise si Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit to withhold...?

DRILON: At that point, ipit na sila e, kaya kung anu-ano na lang ang pinagsasabi sa amin. Alam ko naman na talagang binobola lang kami noon. Alam kong talagang they had no more remedies available to them because they signed the plea bargaining agreement and the plea for a lesser offense. They did not oppose the bail. So in effect the plea bargaining agreement was being executed and their failure to object to the execution prior to the approval shows the gross incompetence of these prosecutors. They should resign from their posts given what has transpired.

Q: Can you explain bakit walang double jeopardy?

DRILON: Because the dismissal of the plunder case is based on an illegal document, a document which is unlawfully entered into. These prosecutors should resign.

Q: Sir itong pag-apruba ng Sandiganbayan, it doesn't mean na nakita nilang tama ang pinasok na plea bargain agreement?

DRILON: I don't want to second guess them. The fact is, I expected it given what has transpired.

Q: Hindi ba parang vindication yun kay Merceditas Gutierrez at sa prosecutors?

DRILON: Hindi vindication yon. It is their incompetence which has resulted in all of this. This is the result of their incompetence.

Q: What's the best justification in appealing the decision?

DRILON: The incompetence of the prosecutors.

Q: Pero sir may pending recommendation ang Senate Blue Ribbon to have the prosecutors involved in the plea deal removed.

DRILON: The committee is only persuasive in character.

Q: Ano ang time frame ng Solicitor General to make that appeal?

DRILON: There are periods in the Rules of Court but I cannot say.

Q: Can the prosecutors be held liable for making false promises? It's on record...

DRILON: I do not know whether they indeed file a manifestation as they have promised asking the Sandiganbayan to hold the ruling in abeyance. That's the best that they can promise. But obviously they cannot promise to withdraw the plea bargain. The $64 question is why they did not want to withdraw the plea bargain before its approval? Why did the prosecutors insist on this, given the overwhelming public opinion and legal precedents? Why was there so much resistance?

Q: Anong sanctions pwede sa prosecutors?

DRILON: I think Wendell Sulit has been dismissed. Somebody should review the action of these prosecutors in the course of the trial because it can be a basis for their dismissal from office.

Q: Can the new Ombudsman reverse the decision of the former Ombudsman?

DRILON: The new Ombudsman can always take a different position. The new Ombudsman can file a motion for reconsideration with the Sandiganbayan. That is allowed under the existing rules. And if this is denied, then they go up to the SC. They should first file a motion for reconsideration.

Q: Maapektuhan ba ang kaso kung sakaling mag appeal ang Solicitor General at unfilled ang position ng Ombudsman?

DRILON: The Solicitor General is totally independent of the Ombudsman so it can take a position entirely independent of the Ombudsman. As the Solicitor General has taken in various cases involving government agencies, they have taken a position different from that of the government agency involved. They are not bound by the decisions of the agency. The Solicitor General can file a motion for reconsideration because its motion for intervention was denied. The denial of their motion to intervene is a valid basis for the motion for reconsideration. The new Ombudsman, once designated, can also file a motion for reconsideration before going to the Supreme Court.

Q: Yung bagong Ombudsman's motion for reconsideration, independent...?

DRILON: Whether or not the Ombudsman files a motion for reconsideration, the SolGen can file a motion for reconsideration separately because their motion to intervene was denied. Therefore they can file a motion for reconsideration from the denial of their motion to intervene. And if the Sandiganbayan sticks to its decision to deny the motion for intervention, the SolGen can bring it up to the SC and include in its petition the quashal of the approval of the plea bargaining agreement.

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