Laude files Motion for Reconsideration to the December 23 Order

Please click here for a copy of the Motion for Reconsideration filed on January 9, 2014 by Marilou Laude, by counsel, to the December 23, 2014 Order of the Olongapo Regional Trial Court based on the following legal grounds:

I. The 3-day notice rule is not absolute. Its rationale is satisfied when there is an opportunity to be heard– which was clearly present in the hearing for these two motions. The collaborating counsel (Atty. Felimon Ray l. Javier) for the accused, and the public prosecutor (city prosecutor Emilie Fe M. Delos Santos) were present during the 22 December 2014 hearing day for the two motions, and they even made their oral comments.

II. Moreover, there were exigent circumstances as to the filing of the two motions that, consequently, called for a liberal application of the 3-day notice rule.

III. Private complainant filed her two motions in accordance with her “right to access to justice” under international human rights law. Hence, the conforme of the public prosecutors is not necessary to the two motions.

IV. It was not possible to get the conforme of the public prosecutors to the “urgent motion to compel the armed forces of the Philippines to surrender custody of accused to the olongapo city jail” since the head of the panel of public prosecutors, city prosecutor Emilie Fe M. Delos Santos, refused to sign it — in contradiction to the official position of the justice secretary. The city prosecutor also refused to sign the “motion to allow media coverage.”

V. The issues raised in the two motions are issues of transcendental importance and of primordial public interest. Hence, it is essential that the honorable court resolve the two motions on its substantive merits.

Further, private complainant reiterates its prayer that the honorable court allow the media to enter the court room and cover the hearings in this case.

Christmas holiday

It was tough to celebrate Christmas this year. For the first time in many years, I failed to give even my closest friends and ninong and ninangs presents because of my very hectic litigation calendar. Literally, I left Olongapo on the 23rd of December to ensure that I was in the loop in the latest order of the judge hearing the Laude murder case. Of course, as it is in the nature of ironies, I left a few hours before the judge issued her last orders for the year granting Joseph Scott Pemberton a stay of two months while his petition for review with the Department of Justice was pending, and two others which denied our motions to transfer the marine to a local jail and to allow media coverage. Given the nature of this Order, I was answering calls form journalists until about 8 pm of Christmas Eve!

It was great, hence, that the Mrs. had long scheduled a private time with the family after Christmas in nearby Hanoi.

It was not my first time to Hanoi. On my first, I delivered a lecture before Vietnamese government lawyers on the International Criminal Court. On that occasion, my friend, Le Dinh, also a human rights defender, had just been imprisoned and charged with violation of national security laws. In the presence of the Vietnamese Secretary of Justice, I then warned the Vietnamese that membership in the ICC entails a domestic legal system that would protect and promote fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression. This piqued the Justice secretary who in turn, lectured me about the nature of the grave offenses committed by Le Dinh.

What shocked the audience was after the Minister’s outburst, I took back the microphone to debunk his statements one by one. In essence, what I said was that “threats to national security” has long been used by despotic regimes to infringe on freedom of expression, and that the real reason for the suppression was simply that they want to suppress the truth from their people.

I did not return to Vietnam for at least three years since immediately after my lecture, the German Mission (I was invited by the European Union), had to ensure that I board my flight back to Manila. So it was a pleasant surprise that despite this incident, my visit to Hanoi with my family was absolutely hassle- free.

Like any other Southeast Asian country, Vietnam also has what we have an abundance of. The attraction in Hanoi is Ha Log Bay, which literally, is a copy of Coron bay in Palawan. But the difference is like the Thais; the Vietnamese know how to extract every single centavo from visiting tourists. And in fairness to them, the tourists would spend with a sense that the visit was worth the money.

What they have in Ha Long that we do not have in Palawan are at least a hundred cruise liners sailing through the bay and bringing the cruisers to a cave and an hour of kayaking, The cruises included all meals and had sleeping quarters which I have not seen on board any ship in the Philippines.

Yes, the vacation was not perfect. My wife, who booked the cruise, was shocked when she was informed by our guide that the ship looked differently from the promotional pictures because the latter was photo shopped. My wife also was shocked that she paid for a certain quality of rooms, which differed substantially from what we got. And yes, there too were the fumes that kept us awake until the wee hours of the morning. This in addition to the guide’s bad joke that the Vietnamese are thankful to us because we would be devastated first by typhoons that head later for Vietnam.

But by and large, Hanoi remains one of the most charming destinations in Southeast Asia. The city is colorful and vibrant, with lakes scattered all over the city. The old quarters of the city stand in stark contrast to its colonial parts . Certainly, Ha Long Bay deserves to be in the company of our underground river as one of the new seven wonders of the world. But to reiterate, the comparative advantage of our Vietnamese neighbors is that despite their communist background, they appear to have a better developed tourism infrastructure intended to maximize their earnings from any arriving tourist. This can be irritating to some tourists, but definitely good policy for government. When will our Department of Tourism aim to be at par even with Vietnam? We know of course that it is now impossible to be at par with Thailand and Malaysia in this regard!

In addition to our three-night stay in Hanoi, I motored to Baguio for an overnight stay. The Mrs. does not like the long drive to the North and hence, I drove up all by my lonesome self. My mission was to see how much of a difference the newly constructed TPLEX in the trip to Baguio made. And yes, I was very pleased to find out that the new expressway constructed by corporate genius Ramon Ang had cut short the travel by at least half. For while it took us about seven hours to get to Baguio before, the highway had cut travel time to only three and a half hours. Now I only have to persuade the Mrs. that the travel time to the mountain city is abbot the same as any plane ride to any Southeast Asia destination.

Because of the Hanoi and Baguio trips, I feel absolutely refreshed and ready to face the task at hand. Yesterday, we filed our opposition to Pembertons’s Petition for Review at the Department of Justice. Today, we have our first trial date for the Maguindanao massacre. Fortunately, in just about eight days, the Pope has given us another five days of holiday.

Maybe then I can persuade the wife to go up to Baguio? Sana!

Kin of Laude opposes Pemberton’s petition for review

Reference: Atty Harry Roque 09175398096

The family of murdered Jennifer Laude today filed a 34-page opposition to Pemberton’s petition for review with the Department of Justice. According to Marilou Laude, sister of Jennifer, Pemberton’s petition is bereft of merit. Pemberton decried and alleged violation of due process when the panel of prosecutors decided that there exists probable cause on the basis, among others, a report made by the NCIS. “We should be one aggrieved by the NCIS report because until today Olongapo City Prosecutor Emily Delos Santos has refused to give us a copy of the same. Pemberton was given a copy of the report. What is he complaining about now?” Laude asked.

Furthermore, Laude emphasized that Pemberton waived his right to rebut any and all evidence when he opted not to submit his counter affidavit. “Pemberton forfeited his right to be heard, he did so voluntarily with assistance of counsel. He cannot now complain that his right to due process is violated,” added Prof Harry Roque, one of the private prosecutors representing the Laude family.

Bertha fellow Charlaine Latorre further added that charge of murder was proper given that the many bruises sustained by Jennifer are all evidence of treachery and cruelty.

Zharmai Garcia, also a Bertha fellow, observed that there is abuse of superior strength because Pemberton underwent combat training and qualified as private first class in the U.S. Marine. The Laude camp also announced that they will file motion for reconsideration of the orders of the RTC suspending the proceedings, and denying their motion to transfer Pemberton to another jail and for media coverage.

Click here for a copy of the comment/opposition filed today.

10 Highlights in Human Rights for 2014

Happy New Year, Philippines!

For a second time, here are 10 highlights in the field of human rights in the Philippines for the year that just passed:

1. In February, the Philippine Supreme Court rendered a split decision on the constitutionality of the Cybercrimes Prevention Act. Critics of the law argued that its provisions on libel and cybersex were overboard and could infringe on freedom of expression. The Supreme Court disagreed and ruled that defamation and obscenity were traditional limitations on freedom of speech. Despite this set-back, libertarians rejoiced because the court declared as unconstitutional the provisions that could otherwise have subjected libel to double jeopardy and real time gathering of information which the court said should be pursuant to a judicial warrant.

2. In April, the Supreme Court upheld by and large the Reproductive Heath Law. This law promotes the right to health of both women and their children, as well as implements the right to privacy and responsible parenthood. A big win for Human Rights!

3. From May 12 to November 10, the Human Rights Claims Board, a body created by law to pay reparation to victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos dictatorship, accepted claims from victims of the dictatorship. While not all victims were able to submit the claim, the fact that the Board was created by law and accepted some claims for reparation is significant as a way of implementing the state’s obligation to make reparations to victims of human rights violations.

4. In August, the Supreme Court dismissed with finality the prayer of Filipino women raped by Japanese soldiers during World War II to compel the Philippine government to espouse their claim for reparations in international tribunals. Ruling that the President as chief architect of foreign policy cannot be compelled to espouse the comfort women’s claims, the Court made legal history and made the Philippines the only state in the world that does not recognize the duty of war criminals to make reparations to their victims. The main decision could also be read to mean that the Philippines is the only country on earth that does not consider rape as criminal in times of armed conflicts. This decision is perhaps the biggest blow to human rights for the year.

5. The Supreme Court’s decision to declare as unconstitutional both the PDAF and the DAP were major victories on the fight to promote Economic, Social and Cultural rights. This is because by declaring pork barrel in all forms as unconstitutional, the Court in effect ruled that public coffers should be spent to benefit the people economically and not to enrich our politicians. A truly great victory for human rights!

6. The murder of Jennifer Laude said to have been perpetrated by Joseph Scott Pemberton not only highlighted yet another violation of the right to life. It also highlighted the country’s fight for genuine independence pursuant to the internationally recognized right to self-determination. For the first time, the internet generation learned why the presence of foreign troops offends our national sovereignty. This is because when GIs commit common crimes, they’re given special treatment since they will remain the custody of their fellow Americans in an air-conditioned jail and not in a local jail which has been described by the UN Human Rights Committee in one of its View as being “torturous”.

7. Deputy presidential bad mouth Abi Valte called attention again to her gross ignorance of human rights law when she reiterated, ironically, by way of commemorating the 5th year of the Maguindanao massacre, that the P Noy administration will not pay compensation to the victims of the massacre since the current administration had no hand on the massacre. Will someone please teach this woman the basics of state responsibility or better yet, tell her to shut up on matters she’s clueless about!

8. In any case, the fact that the murder cases for the Maguindanao massacre are proceeding at a snails pace is proof that the Philippines is not just in breach of the duty to pay compensation to victims of human rights violations; it is also proof that it is in breach of its duty to the victims to accord them also an adequate domestic remedy.

9. The murders of journalists Rubylita Garcia, Nilo Baculo, Samuel Oliverio, and Richard Nadjid in 2014 are proof that the Philippines remains amongst the most murderous countries fro journalists. Already the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has recorded at least 217 media killings since 1986. The killing of journalists is not just a violation of the right to life. It also infringes on freedom of the press, as murder is the most pernicious and permanent form of censorship.

10. In a UN conference on the safety of journalists sponsored by the European Council and UNESCO, last November in Strasburg, Germany, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted that the country’s conviction rate for extralegal killings remains at a measly 1%. This is why impunity persists in the country.

Keep safe and do not be a victim this 2015!

(Disclosure: the author acted as counsel for either the petitioners or the victims in almost all of the cases cited in this column)

A wish list for Santa

Today is Christmas.  Merry Christmas to one and all! I don’t know if you got what you wanted from Santa. I would not know myself until after this column is published. But what were in your Christmas list? Here’s what’s on mine:

 1. Verdict for the Ampatuan clan in the Maguindanao massacre case.  Five years is a terribly long time to wait for the victims of the single most deadly attack on journalists. Given the country’s track record of a measly 1% conviction rate for extralegal killings, to see anyone convicted for the massacre would indeed be a feat! I do not know if Judge Jocelyn Solis would convict anyone, but whatever her decision may be, we have certainly made it possible for her to render a verdict this year against some, if not all, the members of the Ampatuan clan. We did this through the first-in-first-out proposal which two of our fellow private prosecutors in the case continue to reject. Under our adopted and implemented proposal, we could finish presentation of evidence against some of the accused and need not await termination of evidence against all of the accused. Under this system, both Andal Sr and Zaldy Ampatuan have concluded presentation of their own evidence. We expect Andal Jr aka Unsay, to commence with his this coming February, at the latest. Please, Santa… put an end to this proceedings by having verdicts against some of the accused this 2015.

2. Verdict against Joseph Scott Pemberton for the Laude slaying.  Unlike the Ampatuan case, which has dragged on, Pemberton’s case should be finished on or before December 14, 2015.  Otherwise, he walks. While I have been opposed to the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, perhaps the only redeeming feature of the latter is the mandate that the criminal prosecution against an American serviceman should be concluded within a non-extendable period of one year from the time of initiation of judicial proceedings. The ramification for default of this rule is that the GI, Pemberton in this case, walks. He is free to leave the country and forever escape the wheels of justice. Is there a possibility this will happen? Well of course! Already, the Regional Trial Court has granted Pemberton’s petition to suspend proceedings while his Petition for Review against the finding of probable case is being heard by the Department of Justice. In fact, Pemberton has been granted a stay for 60 days or two months. Given that we’ve lost already two weeks because of the Christmas holidays, this means we only have 9 and half months to conclude presentation of evidence. In reality, this should be eight and a half months given public holidays and typhoon triggered work suspensions, In other words, good luck to us in completing presentation of evidence for 8 and half months! Hence, this wish to Santa!

3.  Denial of the government’s motion for reconsideration on the Disbursement Acceleration Program- Dante Jimenez of the VACC lamented in a text message that the recently signed three trillion budget for 2015 includes an increased budget for the judiciary which PNoy promised in the presence of the Chief Justice. Many pundits interpreted this promise as Malacañang’s way of swaying the court to reconsider its ruling against the DAP. The stakes for Malacañang in this case appears to be very high. For unless the ruling is reconsidered the decisions itself is a justification to convict the President and his cabinet members who implemented the DAP- liable for malversation of public funds. Hence, this wish to Santa that the Court remains independent in the face of Malacañang’s determination to sway it any which way;

4. For the whistleblower in the Evangelista torture case to testify. Many have forgotten Darius Evangelista who was tortured and believed murdered by members of the Philippine National Police in the latter’s Tondo police detachment. Well, the torture captured on a cell phone video, caused worldwide condemnation as the world saw how a string was tied to Darius’s private parts and pulled to cause excruciating physical pain. This case remains the only torture case that has been filed in court. And already, it has become apparent that the whistle blower who took the video should testify in order to authenticate the video. So high up on our wish list to Santa is for this whistle bower, supposedly a novice policeman, to be bothered by his conscience and to testify in the pending criminal case. Whoever and wherever you are, into your hands lies not just the cause of justice for Darius, but possibly- the lesson, by way of example to other law enforcers, that torture is severely punished in our legal system.

5. Finally, a wish that the peace deal in Mindanao should pass the hurdle of constitutionality. Yes, I have been vocal against the Bangsamoro Agreement. But hey, if only because the agreement is fraught with incurable constitutional infirmities, I would include its passing the hurdle of constitutionality as part of the wish list.  Hope, after all, is free. No harm in hoping that P Noy’s ultimate legal blunder, the Bangasamoro deal, is upheld as constitutional. And yes, its because we also want peace in Mindanao.

That’s it folks! Hope you’ve made your own list! More importantly, let’s hope Santa grants all our wishes.

Merry Christmas Philippines!

pfcpembertonphoto US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton during his booking at the Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 this morning, 19 Dec 2014

Marilou Laude, thru counsel, filed the following motions today at the Olongapo Regional Trial Court:



Please click the above links for the full text of the two motion.

US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton during his booking at the Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 this morning, 19 Dec 2014.

Our first (and so far only) look at US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton (in grey suit) during his booking at the Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 this morning, 19 Dec 2014. This video was taken during a public hearing. He entered and left through a private door.