Monday, June 12, 2006

Echegaray Should Not Have Been Executed - Chief Justice

Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said that death convict Leo Echegaray should not have been executed via lethal injection in 1999 because it was not proven that he was the father of the victim.

In a speech before the launch of the book "Legal References" before the members of the group Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) on May 31, 2006, Panganiban said Echegaray should have suffered the penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment.

"...the information alleged that the victim was the daughter of the accused "Leo Echegaray." It was proven during the trial, however, that he was not 'a father, stepfather, or grandfather" of the victim. Echegaray's penalty should have been reduced to reclusion perpetua" Panganiban said.

The Chief Justice said Echegaray's case is an argument against the death penalty. Panganiban has been a staunch anti-death penalty advocate.

In an ambush interview in Baguio City in April this year, Panganiban reiterated that the existing death penalty law was unconstitutional.

He had said that Congress was not able to show enough reasons for the restoration of the death penalty. The penalty has been abolished by the 1987 Constitution and was restored in 1993 under the administration of former President Fidel V. Ramos.

"He is now in the Great Beyond, and a correction of the judicial error can no longer resurrect him. I believe that the surreal outcome of this case reinforeces the strongest reason why the death penatly has no place in our statute books," Panganiban said.

Supreme Court Spokesperson Ismael Khan clarified Panganiban's statement amidst a spate of criticisms.

Khan in an interview with this reporter said the Chief Justice's statement should not be taken to mean that Echegaray was not guilty of rape.

"He was proven to be a rapist," Khan said. He clarified that what Panganiban said was the information was erroneous.

The information alleged that Echegaray was the father of the victim but was not proven in Court. This was a qualifying circumstance that made the crime heinous and thus warranted execution as penalty, Khan said.

"There was an error in the lower court's decision," he said.

Khan added that 75% of all cases that were automaticall reviewed by the High Court were modified.

2 comments:

Jose said...

Can you repeat your statement Atty. Khan? You just said, "There was an error in the lower court's decision."

May I remind you that this case was elevated on appeal to, and was decided/resolved with finality by no less than the Supreme Court En Banc. And now you are ascribing error, and blaming the unjustified death of Leo Echegaray, to the lower court (Regional Trial Court)? Isn't it the duty of the appellate courts (like the Supreme Court) to review the decisions/Judgments rendered by the lower courts and have it (lower court's decisions) modified or reversed in case of error?

The death of Echegaray, if indeed an erroneous exercise of a state sanctioned killing, is an error of the Supreme Court and the justices who concurred with its imposition. Shame on all of you if such were the case. It only shows that you gave in to the clamor of majority of the public who smelled the blood of Echegaray and not decided the case based on law and evidence. A judge, more so a Justice of the Highest Court of the land, should be couragious enough in performing his sacred judicial duty without fear from public outcry or reprisals. If they (judges and justices) cannot do this, they have no right to be in their present position as judges or justices. Although they may have a promising opportunity in the other branches of the government (political department like the Executive or Legislative Department), they definitely do not deserve to be in the Judiciary.

The Philippine Supreme Court is composed of 15 Justices (1 chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices). One Supreme Court Justice has several Court Attornies (full pledged lawyers, bar passer)numbering more than five if I am not mistaken, and several Legal Researchers, etc. They have a complete office equipments, books and they received unconscionably more financial bonuses/incentives than lower court staffs. The appellate courts (like the Supre Court) do not normally conduct hearings/trials, meaning they have more time to review and decide a case. A lower court judge, on the other hand, has ONE (1) Branch Clerk (lawyer, bar passer) and ONE (1) Legal Researcher (law graduate) to help him draft decisions/Orders/Resolutions. The lower court judges has, on the average, 300-400 cases pending in his court, and he conduct hearings/trials atleast four days a week. See the difference?

The Supreme Court, with its manpower (from the 15 justices to their staffs) and resources, they should be man enough to admit error and not point finger to lower court judges especially if it was them who affirmed the decision of the latter (referring to lower court judges).

Jose said...

Can you repeat your statement Atty. Khan? You just said, "There was an error in the lower court's decision."

May I remind you that this case was elevated on appeal to, and was decided/resolved with finality by no less than the Supreme Court En Banc. And now you are ascribing error, and blaming the unjustified death of Leo Echegaray, to the lower court (Regional Trial Court)? Isn't it the duty of the appellate courts (like the Supreme Court) to review the decisions/Judgments rendered by the lower courts and have it (lower court's decisions) modified or reversed in case of error?

The death of Echegaray, if indeed an erroneous exercise of a state sanctioned killing, is an error of the Supreme Court and the justices who concurred with its imposition. Shame on all of you if such were the case. It only shows that you gave in to the clamor of majority of the public who smelled the blood of Echegaray and not decided the case based on law and evidence. A judge, more so a Justice of the Highest Court of the land, should be couragious enough in performing his sacred judicial duty without fear from public outcry or reprisals. If they (judges and justices) cannot do this, they have no right to be in their present position as judges or justices. Although they may have a promising opportunity in the other branches of the government (political department like the Executive or Legislative Department), they definitely do not deserve to be in the Judiciary.

The Philippine Supreme Court is composed of 15 Justices (1 chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices). One Supreme Court Justice has several Court Attornies (full pledged lawyers, bar passer)numbering more than five if I am not mistaken, and several Legal Researchers, etc. They have a complete office equipments, books and they received unconscionably more financial bonuses/incentives than lower court staffs. The appellate courts (like the Supre Court) do not normally conduct hearings/trials, meaning they have more time to review and decide a case. A lower court judge, on the other hand, has ONE (1) Branch Clerk (lawyer, bar passer) and ONE (1) Legal Researcher (law graduate) to help him draft decisions/Orders/Resolutions. The lower court judges has, on the average, 300-400 cases pending in his court, and he conduct hearings/trials atleast four days a week. See the difference?

The Supreme Court, with its manpower (from the 15 justices to their staffs) and resources, they should be man enough to admit error and not point finger to lower court judges especially if it was them who affirmed the decision of the latter (referring to lower court judges).