Alleged Masterminds want their petition referred to Supreme Court en banc
CMFR/PHILIPPINES – AFTER THE DENIAL OF THEIR MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION, the alleged masterminds behind the murder of journalist Marlene Esperat have filed a motion asking that their petition for review on certiorari be referred to the Supreme Court en banc. The Third Division of the Supreme Court had already denied “with finality” last 25 June 2012 the accused masterminds’ motion for reconsideration of their petition for review on certiorari (http://www.cmfr-phil.org/2012/08/02/supreme-court-denies-alleged-masterminds-motion-with-finality/). The cases against them would have been dropped if their petition had been approved.
Osmena Montañer and Estrella Sabay filed the petition for review before the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals Mindanao station affirmed its denial of their petition for certiorari and prohibition against the Regional Trial Court of Tacurong City, the Department of Justice and Esperat’s sister, Valmie Garcia Mariveles on 19 January 2012. (The case was first heard at Tacurong City RTC Branch 20. It was transferred to Makati upon the request of the Esperat family and FFFJ citing security concerns.)
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court of the Philippines states that “a party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or other courts whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise only a questions of law which must be distinctly set forth.”
In an 11-page motion dated 10 August 2012, Montañer and Sabay requested that their petition for review on certiorari be forwarded to the Supreme Court en banc for decision, saying that “it is unfortunate that the Honorable Court did not give due course to the instant petition which raises an issue which is deemed of ‘sufficient importance to merit its attention….’
The alleged masterminds through their lawyer Cesar Jimenea argued that there was no “substantial evidence” to prove that there is probable cause that they masterminded the murder of Esperat. They claimed that the testimony of state witness Sgt. Rowie Barua, in which they were named as the masterminds behind Esperat’s murder, was not included in the evidence reviewed by the lower court in deciding on their motion to quash and in issuing the arrest warrants.
Jimenea sent copies of the said motion to the Office of the Solicitor General, Esperat’s sister Valmie Garcia Mariveles through counsel Nena Santos, and Branch 138 of the Makati Regional Trial Court, where the murder case is now being heard. The office of Santos received the motion last 6 September 2012. However, neither Prosecution Attorney Cesar Angelo Chavez III of the Department of Justice nor lawyer Prima Jesusa Quinsayas received a copy of the motion. Chavez is the public prosecutor assigned to handle the murder case, while Quinsayas serves as private prosecutor representing Esperat’s widower and children. Quinsayas is the counsel of FFFJ.)
Meanwhile, Branch 138 of the Makati Regional Trial Court has ordered the alleged masterminds to comment on the Third Motion for the Issuance of an Alias Warrant filed by the prosecution last 30 August 2012. The prosecution has yet to receive the comment of Montañer and Sabay on motion for an alias warrant.
The Makati court earlier deferred the resolution of the prosecution’s Second Motion for an alias warrant, citing the pending resolution of the accused masterminds’ motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court. (http://www.cmfr-phil.org/2012/06/05/still-no-alias-warrant-for-alleged-masterminds-in-esperat-slay/)
Esperat was killed on 24 March 2005 in her home in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat. The gunman and his accomplices were convicted in October 2006 by a Cebu court. The case against alleged masterminds Montañer and Sabay was filed earlier but had been on hold from December 2009 until August 2011 due to a preliminary injunction issued by the appellate court as it was resolving their petition for certiorari. CA Mindanao has since denied their petition for certiorari and lifted the preliminary injunction, thus paving the way for their trial.