The AFP’s complaint and Secretary De Lima


The AFP’s filing of disbarment charges against me yesterday is anti-climactic to their repeated threats that they would do so for the past ten days. I welcome it and will answer it in due course. I hope that with its filing, the AFP can now concentrate on running after the Abu Sayyaf and defending our territory in the West Philippine Sea. I am flattered that the AFP gave me so much attention in the face of the many concerns that it faces.

As I have previously stated, I will also file graft and administrative charges against the AFP for allowing Joseph Scott Pemberton to remain in US custody in Aguinaldo. This is contrary to Philippine sovereignty and hence, a breach of the oath of allegiance that officers and men of the AFP took. This is also dereliction of duty.

That the Philippines should have custody over Pemberton is pursuant to the VFA’s provision that the Philippines should have primary jurisdiction over non-service related offenses committed by American servicemen. This is also apparent in the provisions that the Americans “may request to have custody” of their servicemen “from time of the commission of an offense”, which obviously contemplates that the person of an American serviceman should be in the custody of our authorities. This is also consistent with the definition of jurisdiction, which is the legal competence to enforce and prescribe conduct. Without custody over the person of the accused, police authorities cannot conduct the requisite investigation, which forms the basis for the filing of Information in court. The AFP’s failure to have custody over Pemberton is why we do not have the fingerprints, DNA samples, and physical examination of the suspect, all of which are basic physical evidence.

I will also hold the AFP liable for contempt since to publicly announce the filing of disbarment against an officer of the court is to ridicule the administration of justice in this country. All such proceedings are supposed to be confidential. Recently, the Supreme Court fined Prima Quinsayas, collaborating counsel of Nena Santos, the Mangundadatu counsel, in the Ampatuan prosecution for making public their disbarment complaint against Atty. Sigfrid Fortun.

I assure the public that the AFP will not cow me. I will continue to fight for my clients’ interests with even more zeal knowing that Philippine state agents have sided with foreign interests. I will also continue to assert Philippine sovereignty. This is my duty as a member of the Bar and as a Filipino. My promise: I shall return to Aguinaldo should there be a need for me to personally take custody of Pemberton in order to turn him over to Philippine authorities less subservient to the United States.

I will file all my complaints against the AFP as soon as I return from Europe where I am attending Council of Europe and UNESCO meetings on the killing of journalists. Ironically, experts have identified the AFP as amongst the perpetrators of killings against our journalists.

As I write this, I have just asked three questions to Secretary Leila De Lima on the killing of journalists. First, how different is Administrative Order 35 form other Inter-agency committees created by PGMA to deal with extralegal killings which Philip Aston dismissed as insufficient to discharge state obligations to protect and promote the life to life?

Second, why has the government not complied with Ampatuan massacre victims rights, under human rights law, to satisfaction and compensation?

Third, what steps has the Philippine government taken to implement the Human Rights Committee view that criminal libel is contrary to freedom of expression?

De Lima answered as follows, to my chagrin:

One, AO 35 is different from PGMA’s Task Force Usig and Task Force 211 because it is composed of high-level cabinet members and entail cooperation between the police and the prosecutors even if she acknowledged that the current conviction rate for extralegal killings remains at 1%.

Anent the view on libel, she said that there are now pending bills in Congress decriminalizing libel.

De Lima’s answers were politely taken by an audience dominated by advocates for media rights. They were, however, dismissed as being unacceptable by all whom I talked to. One participant remarked that De Lima’s statements, particularly denying the Maguindanao victims their right to satisfaction and compensation, is why there is impunity in the Philippines. Another, a former Vice-Chairman of the Human Rights committee who admired De Lima when she appeared before the Committee, expressed surprise why a person knowledgeable in human rights could publicly claim ignorance of an apparent state obligation.

A more radical participant wanted to slam her.

All told, the Philippine government’s sending of Leila De Lima to the forum was an obvious attempt to bolster the standing of the Philippines in the eyes of the international human rights community. Unfortunately, a messenger can only do so much. The substance has to be provided by the President and his administration. Here, PNOY is clearly wanting.

This post first appeared on November 6, 2014 at http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/11/06/the-afp-s-complaint-and-secretary-de-lima/

Reaction to AFP’s ACTUAL ( not just the threat) filing of Disbarment Complaint against me


Ref: Prof Harry Roque 09175398096 (Viber until 11 November) The AFP’s filing of disbarment charges against me today is anti-climactic to their repeated threats that they would do so for the past ten days. I welcome it and will answer it in due course. I hope that with its filing, the AFP can now concentrate on running after the Abu Sayaff and defending our territory in the West Philippine Sea. I am flattered that the AFP gave me so much attention in the midst of the many concerns that it faces. As I have previously stated, I will also file graft and administrative charges against the AFP for allowing Pemberton to remain in US custody in Aguinaldo. This is contrary to Philippine sovereignty and hence, a breach of the oath of allegiance that the AFP took. This is also dereliction of duty. I will also hold the AFP liable for contempt since to publicly announce the filing of disbarment against an officer of the court is to ridicule the administration of justice in this country. All such proceeding are supposed to be confidential. I assure the public that I will not be cowed by the AFP. I will continue to fight for my client’s interests with even more zeal knowing that Philippine state agents have sided with foreign interests. I will also continue to assert Philippine sovereignty. This is my duty as a member of the Bar and as a Filipino. My promise: I shall return to Aguinaldo should there be a need for me to personally take custody of Pemberton in order to turn him over to Philippine authorities less subservient to the United States. I will file all my complaints against the AFP as soon as I return from Europe where I am attending a Council of Europe and UNESCO meetings on the killing of journalists. Ironically, experts have identified the AFP as amongst the perpetrators of killings against our journalists

Malaysian Courts on Trial: The case of Anwar Ibrahim


IMG_0923I have been a trial observer in Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trials since 1999. In fact, I have only missed to observe his trial once -that was when the Malaysian Court of Appeals overturned the High Court’s previous decision acquitting him from all charges.

I made it a point hence to observe oral arguments in Ibrahim’s case before the Malaysian Supreme Court. Similar to ours, the Malaysian Supreme Court sits in many divisions. The proceedings I had the chance to observe had five justices on it.

Unfortunately, my commitments at home did not allow me to observe for more than two days of oral arguments. I thought that the two days would be enough because in our own Supreme Court, very seldom will the Court hear a matter for more than two sittings.

But the Malaysian Court is different, Unlike ours, which will only hear issues of law, the Malaysian Court heard arguments point by point on why the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the High Court. I had the privilege of hearing two children of the revered but recently passed barrister Karpal Singh, both of whom argued that the Appellate Court erred in convicting Ibrahim on the basis of dubious DNA evidence.

While DNA as a science is itself accepted, what made the use of DNA evidence dubious in Ibrahim’s case was the fact that while the DNA extracted from a towel, a comb and a tooth brush allegedly used by Ibrahim came from one and the same person, there was nonetheless no direct evidence that they were in fact the DNA of Ibrahim! DNA as a science would itself confirm if DNA found from an object is from a particular person. But in the case of Ibrahim, the Appellate court overturned his conviction on the basis of mere circumstantial evidence that they could only have come form Ibrahim, despite the absence of scientific link to him.

This kind of a conclusion would not have been possible in the Philippine or any other jurisdiction with the semblance of an independent judiciary. The fact that the Malaysian Appellate Court convicted him under this dubious condition could only mean that it abdicated its independence and agreed to be a tool of the ruling party, UMNO, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, in an effort to stymie Ibrahim and the rest of the country’s opposition into surrender.

But battle tested democrats don’t succumb to threats easily. By highlighting the obvious, Anwar has turned the table on the Malaysian Judiciary. No court in this planet could have convicted him on the basis of DNA evidence with no direct link to him. The questions now is whether the Malaysian Supreme Court will exhibit independence and acquit Ibrahim, or be swayed by the ruling party as did the Court of Appeals. In a way, what I observed was the Malaysian Courts on trial, and not just Anwar Ibrahim’s case.

All freedom loving people of the world eagerly await the outcome of this trial. For with it is also a verdict on the independence and integrity of the Malaysian Courts.

My Reaction to AFP filing disbarment against me


Its good AFP filed disbarment complaint against me. It will clarify a lawyer’s role in pushing victims rights and natl sovereignty. On my part, I will file graft charges vs AFP. Its graft when they allow the US to have custody over Pemberton in Aguinaldo. If they win, I will be disbarred. If I win, they end up in jail. This is without prejudice to filing contempt charges vs those who have repeatedly and publicly threatened me with disbarment. AFP should be taught what a civilian officer of the court stands for

Request for Coverage : November 1 departure of Marc Sueselbeck


Centerlaw release
References: Professor Harry Roque Jr. 09175398096, Atty. Romel R. Bagares 09328798422

Marc Suesebeck, Jennifer Laude’s fiance, will have a short press conference in front of NAIA Terminal 1 tomorrow, 1 November 2014, at 1:30 pm, prior to his scheduled flight.

Marc will be accompanied by members of the Laude family and his legal team.