• The law’s delay and Zos Mendoza


    THE law’s delay” Hamlet condemned in his famed To-Be–or-Not-To-Be soliloquy.

    Many lament the delay in the Ozone case. The tragic disco fired occurred in March 1996 and the Sandiganbayan rendered its decision finding the accused guilty only last November 14. 18 years! I imagine those convicted will appeal. More years.

    On November 30, 2014, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) reported that Judge Adoracion “Angeles was the `incorruptible judge’ who convicted 26 members of the influential Ateneo law fraternity Aquila Legis in 1993 for the February 1991 death of Lenny Villa and sentenced them to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment.”

    On appeal, convicted frat man Zosimo Mendoza retained our firm. In January 2002, the PDI reported that “the Court of Appeals acquitted 19 of the 26 Aquila Legis members. . . . Three were meted the death penalty.” A score was acquitted, including our client, but it is certainly not true that anyone was meted the death penalty, abolished by the 1987 Constitution, which had not been restored then.

    I was in the Senate in 1991 and filibustered against the eye-for-an-eye-tooth-for-a-tooth-rape-the-rapist penalty. It was restored only in 1993 when I was out of government but I remain opposed to execution, extrajudicial and judicial.

    The PDI further wrote: “The Supreme Court in a Feb. 1, 2012 ruling, found only five fraternity members guilty.”

    A motion to reconsider that decision penned by then Associate Justice Meilou Sereno has been pending since in the Supreme Court (SC).

    The Court of Appeals had twice acquitted the score, and the SC once. We have a startling case of multiple jeopardy of a case now on its 24th year. An acquittal is normally immediately final, unappealable and executory. But, our firm keeps getting notices, e.g., to comment for thrice acquitted Zos.

    If one person is killed in frat hazing – where the intent to kill is not there – and the case remains pending for 24 years, how long would it take the dysfunctional system to finish Ampatuan with almost 200 accused of terror for narrow trapo partisan ends?

    Guru Joker Arroyo had famously predicted that the case would take 200 years to finish. He may be the only one around by that time but in many ways he is even now immortal.

    Joker is on the same page with Senator Bobby Tanada and me, among others, on the Enhanced Defense Cooperative Agreement (EDCA). Given its automaticity clause, it can last far beyond the initial ten-year term in EDCA.

    My eldest apo, Rene III, just turned six, loves to play soldier. If he becomes one and has to fight China, should that be decided alone by PNoy and a handful of others?

    The Constitution says, in our reading, involve the people, here, thru the Senate, in agreements with other nations in transcendental matters with polycentric dimensions. This is not about the retail trade (Ichong), rice importation from Vietnam (Hechanova) or a Spanish national wanting to practice law here (Garcia). In these cases, in obiters, our SC said local law has “superior sanctity,” to borrow from settled American case law.

    And here, not just a domestic law is involved, but it is the Constitution we are expounding. Art. VII, Sec. 21 and Art. XVIII, Sec. 25 require Senate concurrence.

    Good that gutsy Senator Miriam decided to assert the vital role of the cuckolded Senate in foreign relations. The Senate cannot order the Prez to submit the EDCA to the Senate. We may not mandamus the Prez. Hence, the prudent alternative of having a sense of the Senate resolution to have it have its say on the matter. PNoy may likely get its concurrence anyway but following the neater constitutional institutional arrangement. Pamahalaan ng nakararami, di ng nag-iisa, or iilan.

    In 1991, our former colleague, Senator Raul Manglapus, a lawyer, regularly briefed us. In 2014, point man Sec. Volts Gazmin completely ignored the Senate. Military superiority over the civilian?

    The “most unkindest cut of all” of all was PNoy telling the media that two old men, alluding to Bobby and me, saw him and came around to his point of view. Not so. In 1991, Prez Cory asked Sen. Butz Aquino and me to see her; she asked for our bases votes. We also pled with her, “please ask us another.”

    And she did not tell the press any terminological inexactitude on shifting positions. And next time, if PNoy would want to score, he can describe Kamandag Butz, Kilabot Bobby and Tameme Me as being in our Second Adolescence. Ako naman po madaling mauto. And I was taught long ago, do the right thing in the right way. (?)

    Seriously, any nation will come to our aid, if it is in national interests to do so. South Korea has an engineering battalion in Yolanda-stricken areas. No static.

    Will the US come to our aid if a Pinoy fisherman is killed by the Chinese? As I said in the Senate last Tuesday, in August 1976, North Koreans axed to death two American soldiers. The Kanos did nothing as they did nothing when Nokors seized the USS Pueblo in January, 1968, releasing the Kanos just before Christmas in the same year. However, the vessel remains in Pyongyang.

    If the US won’t do anything for Kanos, why should Pinoys expect more? It will act only to serve its permanent interests. It has no permanent friends and interests. Lord Palmerston.

    I the movie Pearl Harbor which I saw again last Monday, audacious Col. Doolittle successfully led the raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942, less than two weeks after Bataan fell. Flying out of Japan, out of gas, the raiders went to China where the Chinese protected the raiders.

    Japan invaded us successfully in 1941 when we were one huge American military base. Japan is our friend and ally now, against China. Naive is what we should not be in geopolitics.

    As for the SC and EDCA, on September 29, 1967, Atty. (later Con-Com Commissioner and Justice) Florenz Regalado lost there, unanimously. He moved to reconsider, and the same year, December 29, between Christmas and New Year, had the ruling reversed, unanimously (Flor holds the bar grade record of 96.7%). It seems the SC today, as reported, goes on a three-week holiday vacation. Less work ethic, more delay, Zos.

    Affable articulate Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva and I spoke in the finest law school in the entire Rockwell complex last November 19. It seems to me one of whom due process is demanded should himself get it. Permit me to doubt that Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong got it. He got sacked on an 8-5 vote on the SC’s arguably lowered standards for its very own. Now it tells Sandiganbayan magistrates to disclose their SALNS while telling my studes, “secret!”


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    1. What does it say of this country when they cant even get the justice system sorted out. It means justice will never be done. Without justice these scum will continue to do things heedless of any consequences.