Battle Royale


Impeachment is once again controversial. In an unprecedented move, the House Committee on Justice lead by its Chairman, Rep. Neil Tupas Jr., voted overwhelmingly to defy a status quo order ordered by the Supreme Court on the impeachment complaint filed against the Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. At issue is whether a second impeachment complaint by the party list Bayan Muna filed and consolidated with an earlier one filed by Rep. Rissa Hontiveros of Akbayan was a prohibited complaint for violating the one-year ban on the filing of subsequent impeachment proceedings against an impeachable officer. The allegation of the beleaguered Ombudsman is that it is. The House of Representatives believes that the Court has no jurisdiction to hear the Ombudsman’s petition. This is because according to it, the initiation of an impeachment complaint is an exclusive power of the House of Representatives. Hence, the Court is bereft of jurisdiction to hear the Petition of the Ombudsman.
To the surprise of the House of Representatives, and before it could be heard, the Supreme Court issued a stay order that effectively had the effect of a restraining order. Predictably, the Court spokesman warned members of the House that they risk being cited in contempt of court should they proceed with their proceedings. Well, the die has been cast: the House has defied the court. Who will blink in this constitutional confrontation?

We have had our share of involvement in impeachment proceedings. In 2003, we petitioned the court to restraint the House of Representatives from transmitting its articles of impeachment against then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. on the ground that the same was a second prohibited impeachment proceeding. This was because the articles of impeachment was signed by one-third of all members of the lower house a day after the Justice Committee had dismissed an earlier impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice for administering the oath to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President after Edsa 2.

Later, we also served as counsel for three impeachment complaints against ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the dismissal of an amended impeachment complaint filed after an earlier complaint filed by Oliver Lozano.

At the center of all controversies is the one-year ban provided in Section 3 (5), Article XI of the 1987 Constitution: “(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year”.

In the first case, the court ruled in Roque et. al. v. De Venecia that it had jurisdiction to act on the petition seeking to restraint the filing of the impeachment despite clear language of the Constitution that the House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate impeachment complaints. This, according to the court, is precisely the purpose behind judicial power, that is, to uphold the supremacy of the constitution where there is grave abuse of discretion on the part of an agency or department of government. There is grave abuse of discretion where a branch of government contravenes a literal provision of the Constitution.

The Court then ruled that initiation is upon filing of a complaint and referral to the Committee of Justice. Under this interpretation, the court ruled hence: “In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint, was filed by former President Estrada against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, on June 2, 2003 and referred to the House Committee on Justice on Aug. 5, 2003, the second impeachment complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice on Oct. 23, 2003 violates the constitutional prohibition against the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a one-year period”.

In the second petition, Martinez v. De Venecia, we questioned the decision of the House to junk the substantive amended complaint to the Lozano petition. We argued that what is prohibited by the Constitution is more than one impeachment proceeding per year and not multiplicity of complaints itself. Otherwise, we argued that all that an impeachable officer would do to ensure a year of impunity is to cause the filing of a bogus impeachment complaint.

In the vernacular, we warned that what would ensue would be an “unahan ng daga”. Hence we argued that what was literally prohibited was “multiple impeachment proceedings” and not “complaints”. No ruling on the merit was rendered in this second case because the court dismissed it on the ground that it had become moot when Mrs. Arroyo ended her nine years of destructive reign. But the court did miss a golden opportunity to give guidance to bar and bench on what is precisely prohibited by the constitution. This once more, is the issue in Gutierrez v. House of Representatives Committee on Justice.

The argument by the Ombudsman is that the House Committee on Justice violated the constitution when it consolidated the second Bayan petition with the first Akbayan petition and proceeded to determine sufficiency of form and substance of both complaints.

This we submit is the correct course of action in the event of multiple impeachment complaints. Provided it complies with the ruling in Roque that it was referred simultaneously to the Committee on Justice, the committee should consolidate all pending complaints in the same manner that any House committee would consolidate all the different bills covering the same subject matter in a committee report that would then be submitted to the plenary. The difference is that unlike in the earlier controversy, this is now the course of action taken by the Committee. Our problem then was whether as a result of separation of powers, the Court could in fact compel the House Committee on Justice to do what it did now in the Gutierrez complaint.

But the really interesting issue now is: which branch of government will blink? Relax and enjoy the best show in town!

Cloning De Lima, the IIRC and the inquisitorial system


The raging controversy today is the 12-point recommendation of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee on the August 23 Luneta debacle. There has not been any report in this country that was welcomed by everyone. The IIRC report is no exception. It was met by a mixture of relief and appreciation by those who want to move on; and scorned by those whom the Committee recommended to be the subject of criminal prosecution. I myself have mixed feelings about the recommendations of the Committee. While I generally support its recommendation to indict the men in uniform and other public officers either for their incompetence, fault or failure to exercise control over their subordinates, I nonetheless lament its recommendations to charge the media for the debacle.
I continue to be the biggest fan of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and still think that she should be cloned so that she can serve in all graft-ridden departments and agencies of the bureaucracy at the same time. I do believe, though, that even the mere recommendation that charges be filed against the media would result in chilling the exercise of freedom of the press. If and when these indictments are actually filed, it would further result in an actual infringement of this all-important right.

Looking at my past writings, I noticed that majority of them have been on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. This is not a coincidence as the promotion of these rights has been the primary advocacy of the Center for International Law, a civil society organization that I chair. This explains our participation as private prosecutors in the Ampatuan massacre case as the killing of journalists is the ultimate form of censorship. This is also why we sued the former first gentleman, Miguel Arroyo for P12.5 million in damages for resorting to the filing of at least 45 libel cases which we described as infringement of the right to a free press and an abuse of right. This also explains why we sued the police and the military for their en masse arrests of members of the media for covering the walkout and press conference of Senator Antonio Trillanes at the Manila Peninsula. Indeed, it could be said that bulk of my professional life has been devoted to promoting freedom of expression.

This is due to good reasons. First, I have always had a big mouth and have always been opinionated. To me, without free speech and a free press, there could not be an exchange of ideas that would lead to debates and eventually, solutions to our many problems. Freedom of the press is also indispensible for the formation of public opinion that has proven to be more potent than the Ombudsman (certainly under the current one), the Sandiganbayan, and the Supreme Court combined, in dealing with despotic leaders. And to those who believe that man was created in the image of God, freedom of expression is a right bestowed by God, full stop.

It is hence indispensible that media should be allowed to perform their task except where their conduct will lead to a clear and present danger that the state has a right to prevent. Even in times of armed conflict, media is allowed to perform their job of reporting to the public the truth and events as they transpire in the battlefield. If they are allowed to perform their profession even when there is full blown shooting without fear of criminal prosecution, why should the IIRC recommend their criminal prosecution for their coverage of an isolated act of violence?

True, media’s coverage of the Luneta debacle was far from ideal. But what made the event a debacle was not because it was reported by the media, but because the police and all those identified by the IIRC as being culpable were either at fault or negligent. And yes, with the finding that the fatalities were killed by the gunman himself, where is the criminal culpability of the media?

Ultimately, any act where agents of the state seek to substitute their judgment on what and how to cover a news worthy event infringes on the right to a free press. Moreover, even conceding that some members of the media were guilty of bad journalism for their coverage of the debacle, still there is no criminal statute against bad journalism. Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali. (No crime, no punishment without a previous penal law)

One very good thing, though, illustrated by the IIRC was the speed and dispatch by which the Committee received evidence on the incident. If only our criminal courts could function in the same manner that Secretary De Lima and her committee did, I am sure we would not have the backlog that has caused a state of paralysis in our courts today.

Blame should be put on those who opted to abandon the inquisitorial system that we inherited from Spain, in favor of the current adversarial system of hearing cases in our courts. Under the European model, it is the Judge, much in the same way that Secretary De Lima did in the IIRC, who would ask questions from witnesses and order the production of evidence. I had personal experience on this system when I appeared in a case in Basel, Switzerland where the Judge asked questions for seven and a half hours and gave each counsel 15 minutes each at the end of the hearing to ask clarificatory questions or to make submissions. We junked this system in favor of our adversarial system that we borrowed from the Americans. Under this system, the Judge is a passive recipient of evidence. It is the lawyers who ask the questions and present the evidence. This ultimately is the source of delay in the administration of justice in our country. Hence, not only do we need to clone de Lima, we also need to revert to the inquisitorial system.

DON’T CHARGE THE MESSENGERS: Bad journalism is not criminal conduct


The Center for International Law (CENTERLAW), a civil society organization that advocates, among others, freedom of expression and a free press, express its disappointment at the IIRC recommendation to charge the media for the August 23 debacle. While we acknowledge that media may have failed to observe the highest degree of professionalism and self-restraint in their coverage of the unfortunate incident, still this is not a basis for holding them liable for breach of the country’s criminal laws. Bad journalism is not and should never be criminal in a democracy.

The reality is that the August 23 incident was truly a news worthy event. Media hence had a duty to cover the incident. While the Philippine media has acknowledged that its coverage may have affected the outcome of the incident; this however, is but a natural consequence of the right of the public to information on matters involving public concerns. Indeed, the whole incident is reflective why there is a culture of impunity in this country: a failure of the legal system to work provide adequate remedies to individuals under domestic law and security forces that are both inept and abusive in the discharge of their functions.

CENTERLAW thus calls on the reformist P Noy not to adopt the IIRC’s recommendations. Coming on the eve of the anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the despot Ferdinand Marcos, P Noy must be reminded that without a free press, there would not be a public debate on public issues crucial to the functioning of a representative democracy. This was why as a precondition for the establishment of an authoritarian regime, then despot Marcos had to muzzle a free press.

CENTERLAW also express alarm that the recommendation is no different from the manner by which the Arroyo administration sought to silence the public debate on issues relevant to the nation. Like Arroyo, the IIRC recommends the use of penal laws to repress press freedom. The difference is in the crime sought to be charged: under Arroyo it was libel or disobedience to authorities; under the IIRC recommendation, it is obstruction of justice.

Unlike Marcos or Arroyo, P Noy has no reason to repress press freedom. This is because unlike both Marcos and Arroyo, P Noy without a doubt was vested with an overwhelming mandate from the people. With no skeleton in his closet, P Noy should allow the media to thrive and mature in an adolescent democracy.#30#

FRONT SEAT AT THE AMPATUAN MASSACRE TRIAL


It was another day of revelation and surprises on the continuation of the Ampatuan massacre case. The former Ampatuan houseboy, Lakmodin Saliao (“Lak”), took another three hours to detail what transpired after the November 23, 2009 massacre. It was a testimony that sounded like chapters in a mystery novel replete with allegations of bribery, perjury , and plots to kill. The difference of course was that his testimony was not fiction.

According to Lak, the Ampatuan patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr immediately ordered the release of 200 million pesos immediately after the massacre. While he did not detail how the 200 million was actually disbursed, he did say that further sums were ordered released for specific purposes. For instance, he detailed how the older Ampatuan ordered the payment of 10 Million Pesos to, among others, former Secretary Jesus Dureza apparently in exchange for his immediate release “sa pagkakarelease ng rebellion”, which I interpreted to mean upon the release of the old man from detention because of what they anticipated would be a ruling that the rebellion charges against him will be dismissed for lack of merit. Apparently, the clan may have thought that only rebellion charges would be filed against him because murder, pursuant to the People vs. Hernandez ruling, is absorbed in a charge for rebellion. If my interpretation of the answer of the witness is correct, this would confirm what many thought all along: that the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao last year was a pretext for absolving the Ampatuan clan. Some one apparently had the bright idea that since murder should be absorbed by rebellion, a dismissal of the rebellion charges would mean absolution for the Ampatuans.

The witness also implicated four (4) NBI agents who allegedly received 10 million from the Ampatuan patriarch intended to bribe Maguindanao Chief of Police Sukarno Dikay and suspect Rainier Ebu into recanting their previous statements implicating the Ampatuan clan. Early on, the witness also related how at least 3 members of the bar including, Cynthia Sayudi, Solicitor-General for the ARRM and Atty Pantojan participated in a “moro-moro” to feign illness on the part of Andal Sr. to warrant his hospital arrest in Davao City. Another lawyer, a Public Prosecutor, Thadeus Samson, was allegedly paid by Andal Sr. 5 thousand pesos for every document that he would affix his signature to. At the latter part of the testimony, the ARMM Solicitor-General was said to have ordered the witness to lure Atty Pantojan into attending a meeting in Davao City where the lawyer would be killed and the blame would be pinned on the Mangundadatus.

Immediately after the hearing, my clients instructed me to immediately file disbarment proceedings against all three lawyers for unethical conduct. They also instructed me to make representations with the Anti-Money Laundering Council to open the accounts of the Ampatuans as clearly, if the testimony of the witness is true, the Ampatuans could not have afforded to distribute up to 400 million pesos even on the collective salaries of all the Ampatuans for all the government posts that they have been holding. I was also asked by my clients to coordinate with the public prosecutors so that all those implicated by the testimony of Lak should be indicted for their criminal acts.
My clients expressed elation at the fact that the trial is finally moving 10 months after the massacre. They specially expressed relief that GMA is no longer in power as according to them, the trial today that implicated very high officials of the Arroyo government could not have happened in the past dispensation. In any case, kudos to the whole nation for finally eliminating GMA and her cohorts from power thereby enabling the wheels of justice to finally turn, although very slowly at that.
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The dispute over the Spratlys group of islands, a group of rocks and islets described in maritime maps as “dangerous grounds”, has become controversial anew like a sleeping monster rising from a temporary hiatus. Last month, the United States, which considers the islands and the waters around it as part of the high seas, warned China against acting unilaterally in resolving the dispute. The latter in turn retorted that the statement of the US was an interference with its internal affairs since it treated the Spratlys as part of its territory. For the first time, Indonesia, which is not even a claimant to the Spratlys, broke its silence and asked China to adopt a code of conduct on the Spratlys with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. I was in Singapore when the Strait Times correctly observed that Indonesia, normally a passive observer to this controversy, suddenly spoke up. The Strait Times opined that the significance of the Indonesian response was precisely because China now has bundled the Spratlys together with Tibet as its “internal affair”. In the case of Tibet, China has not hesitated in utilizing force in justifying its continued military occupation of the land of Dalai Lama. It was further reported that China , using a submarine, planted its flag in the disputed continental shelf of the Spratlys said to contain large deposits of oil and natural gas. China was guided by international law principles that recognized the raising of a flag in a desolate and unoccupied territory as an evidence of the exercise of sovereignty. Never mind of course that its planting of its flag in the soil and subsoil submerged by water is unprecedented in world history.

The Spratlys dispute is a disaster waiting to happen . P Noy needs to give priority to the settlement of this conflict under international law as clearly, we are no match to superpower China in the event of a military confrontation. Perhaps it is high time that the Philippines submit this dispute to international adjudication either before the International Court of Justice or the UN Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. Obviously, China’s recent flexing of its muscle on this dispute, after many years of bilateral and multilateral negotiations, is clear indication that the dispute could no longer be settled on the basis of negotiations. #30#

Defending Human Rights


Wednesday was a very busy day for the protection of human rights and the fight against impunity. It started with the resumption of hearing in the Ampatuan massacre in a make-shift court house in Bicutan, Taguig. Prior to yesterday, the victims manifested their disturbance and distraught at the fact that despite an agreement reached by the prosecution and the defense that the first day of the hearing on the merits was supposed to be last September 1, that day came and without the agreed hearing actually taking place. We were thus praying that the process would finally commence after the lapse of 10 long months since the massacre occured. And the yes, our prayers were granted. Finally, the prosecution presented yesterday its first witness, the testimony of Lakmudin Saliao alias “Lock”, a former houseboy of the Ampatuans. His testimony was important not only because he was the first witness to take the stand on the trial on the merits of the case, but also because he testified that Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr and ARRM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan participated in the planning of the massacre. Previously, former Justice Secretary Agra ordered the dismissal of the charges against these two Ampatuans because of lack of evidence. The public outcry that met such a dismissal compelled the former Justice Secretary to reconsider his earlier decision. This latter decision is now on appeal with the Court of Appeals. Lock’s testimony about the involvement of the father and son is the first judicially recorded evidence of their involvement in the massacre. We intend to submit a copy of his testimony to the Court of Appeals that is hearing Ampatuan Sr and Zaldy Ampatuans’s respective appeals questioning the second order of former Secretary Agra ordering their inclusion anew as accused in the pending multiple murder cases.

What was even more startling was Lock’s testimony that Andal Ampatuan Sr agreed to surrender his son, Ampatuan Jr., only to the custody of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This was particularly interesting for us since we were the only ones who manifested during the pre-trial of the case our intent to subpoena the former president as a hostile witness to explain the sense of impunity by which the massacre was perpetrated. The testimony yesterday was the first indication of what we have known all along, that the Ampatuans and former President Arroyo shared a “special bond”. We are raring to find out what this special bond is all about and why it exists.

Although the victims were relieved that the process had finally begun, they are also mindful of the reality, as mentioned by Senator Joker Arroyo, that unless special initiatives are resorted to, the trial can take up to 200 years to finish. Well, the hearing yesterday took more than 3 hours and it was still rescheduled for continuance on September 15. Senator Arroyo’s words may prove prophetic considering that both the prosecution and the accused have manifested that they will present 500 witnesses. This, plus the fact that there are 196 accused and 58 counts or a total of 11,368 cases currently being heard by the RTC, may ensure the trial will in fact take a very long time to finish. Accordingly, we have formally proposed to Secretary Leila De Lima and the panel of public prosecutors to petition the Supreme Court to designate the sala of Judge Solis-Reyes as a special court that will hear only the Ampatuan massacre case. It is our suggestion that Judge Solis-Reyes should be divested of all her other pending cases so that she can conduct daily marathon hearings on this massacre. We also proposed that in addition, the Supreme Court should apply the procedure on continuous trial to the trial of the massacre to ensure the speedy and uninterrupted introduction of evidence. It is only through this means that we can hope to finish the trial of the case, hopefully during the administration of P Noy.

In the afternoon, we rushed to the Department of Justice for the first preliminary hearing of the torture case that ABS-CBN broadcasted last month. For the first time, the wife of the torture victim, whom we will still refer to as “Anna”, appeared publicly to subscribe to her complaint affidavit. Likewise, the father of the torture victim, together with three witnesses and the two CIDG personnel who investigated the case, also subscribed before Public Prosecutor Allen Quimpo the truth and veracity of matters stated in their affidavits. The defense lawyers objected to the playing of the torture video on the ground that they were not furnished with copies of the same. Just to preclude a long and winding debate on the matter, we agreed to defer the showing of the video to the 16th of September. We also requested that the prosecutor to subpoena ABS-CBN to bring in the next hearing the original of the video that was given to them by their source so that the parties can compare it with the copy submitted by the CIDG to the DOJ.

I attended the two hearings only a day after I submitted my chapter on a help book to be published by the Philippine Judicial Academy on the Investigation and Prosecution of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances in the country. My chapter was written for the benefit of both public and private prosecutors. On the scope of the obligation to investigate breaches of the right to life, it is noteworthy to emphasize that the scope of this state obligation is not just to conduct preliminary investigations and even trials for these cases. Instead, it is a duty to the state to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators thereof. In other words, while our rules require private complaining parties to submit evidence to prove the commission of a crime, international law nonetheless mandates where there is a violation of the right to life, it is the state itself that is duty bound to ensure that the perpetrators are in fact punished under its domestic law. I find it sad thus that civil society in the Philippine today has had to take on the burden of punishing those who will violate the right to life when this is primarily a duty of the state. But again, as we say in UP, kung hindi tayo, sino pa; kung di ngayon, kailan pa? #30#

Revisiting the Ombudsman Law


That former police officer Rolando Mendoza complained about the inefficiency of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez highlights the need for Congress to re-examine the Ombudsman as an institution created by the Constitution and by law. While it is the 1987 Constitution that first created the Office of the Ombudsman, it is a mere law that gave the said office a monopoly in the filing of criminal information against government officials with a salary rank of Grade 27 and up. It is also a law that gave the Ombudsman the power to hear and decide administrative charges against all government employees. This appears to be redundant given that all line agencies, in conjunction with the Civil Service Commission, already have existing mechanisms to determine the fitness of individuals to occupy a public office.
The complaint of the bemedaled slain hostage-taker was that the Ombudsman was not acting seasonably to dismiss charges against him. He apparently considered these charges to be bereft of merit. The charge was supposedly filed by a chef from Manila Hotel who claimed to have been a victim of hulidap by Mendoza et. al. It was this charge, I understand, that led to his discharge from his office which then gave rise to his demand to be “reinstated into the service”.

In a press forum yesterday at the Rotary Center in Quezon City, journalists mentioned that the same charge against Mendoza had already been dismissed by the Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police. Apparently, despite this dismissal, the matter is still being heard by the Office of the Ombudsman. I can only surmise that this is so because criminal charges against Mendoza must have been filed arising from the “hulidap” incident. In turn, the filing of every criminal charge in the Ombudsman comes with it an administrative charge which will determine whether the respondent should stay or be fired from his public office.

Not being a fan of the Ombudsman, I can only hope that Mendoza’s valid complaints against her will add much needed fire to the pending impeachment complaints against her now pending in Congress. But over and above the fitness of the Ombudsman to continue occupying such a sensitive post, the Mendoza incident ought at least to prompt our lawmakers to revisit the Ombudsman law. In particular, I submit three basic submissions on why the said law should be amended: to prevent similar paralysis in the Office where it is occupied by a virulently political person; two, to put the office at par with the National Prosecution Service; and three, to rationalize its administrative jurisdiction.

The Ombudsman was envisioned to be a super body that would have the power to promote honesty, efficiency, and transparency in government. Its powers are many and may in fact be rivaled only by the President himself. It has coercive powers to compel attendance and production of evidence, order the doing or to cease the doing any act, to investigate any case of ill gotten wealth, and even the power of contempt. Moreover, it has the power to file criminal information before the Sandiganbayan against public officers with a salary grade of 27 and up. It is this particular power that is hindered where the Ombudsman is seen to be more political than a legal institution. As seen in the case of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez who has admitted her personal closeness to the past dispensation, political loyalty could lead to wanton impunity owing to the Ombudsman’s avowed refusal to investigate her political benefactors. Perhaps, amendatory legislation is now necessary to address this inherent weakness. How? By vesting in the Executive, through the Department of Justice, the concurrent power to file these criminal Information with the Sandiganbayan. Had this been in place, there would have been no further need for P-Noy’s Truth Commission.

Secondly, in the conduct of preliminary investigation, the law should be amended to compel the Ombudsman to resolve all of its investigations within a non-extendible period of 90 days. In the Pestano case for murder, the Ombudsman took ten years to investigate the matter and at the end of its alleged investigation- only to dismiss the case. Why should the Ombudsman be allowed 10 years to determine the existence of probable cause where our public prosecutors will lose their entitlement to their salaries if they do not conclude with their investigations within 90 days? This was the crux of Mendoza’s gripes against the Ombudsman. The truth of the matter is that the Ombudsman is now notorious for sitting on cases for years with the result that once decent people, like Mendoza, have lost all hopes in our legal system precisely because of inordinate delays.

The final area for remedial legislation is the need to rationalize the exercise of the Ombudsman’s administrative jurisdiction. If the reports from the media are correct, Mendoza’s administrative case had already been dismissed by the Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police. In other words, had it not been for the administrative investigation also being conducted by the Ombudsman, there would not have been a hindrance to his reinstatement into the service even without him resorting to the taking of hostages. It seems to me that legislation should be introduced either to vest in the Ombudsman the sole jurisdiction to determine the fitness of individuals to hold public office, or to grant this existing power to already existing agencies. In the case of the PNP, these bodies are the Internal Affairs Service or the National Police Commission. Certainly, we can understand the frustration of Mendoza when despite being cleared by the

IAS, the inaction of the Ombudsman has nonetheless prevented his reinstatement.

Nothing of course will justify what Mendoza did. Some good, though, should come out of this latest tragedy. Perhaps, the foregoing remedial legislation will be the good news resulting from the tragedy at Luneta.