Justice Delayed (and Confused) Part II
“The mountain labored, and gave birth to a mouse”
November 4, 2022
After I read the Sandiganbayan (SB) decision on the Philippine Navy case (Navy), the above saying came to mind. Only consider, Reader. We already know that the case took 19 years from filing the Information to the promulgation of the decision. Why that long? In the course of that proceeding, thirteen of the accused died, and thirteen went “at-large”, which meant, according to the SB’s calculations , only 19 of the 45 accused stood trial.
But there’s the rub, Reader. Any Court decision starts with “People of the Philippines versus…..” and there follows the list of the Accused. Well, there were a total of 57 names in that list, so right from the beginning, there is a discrepancy of 12 between the SB’s list and the list in the title of the decision. Now look at the Accused list: Three Vice-Admirals, eight Commodores, fourteen Captains, four Commanders, three Lieutenant Commanders and three Lieutenants, for a total of 35 Navy Officers, and three Brigadiers General, two Colonels and one Lieutenant Colonel for a total of 6 Philippine Army Officers (medics all) were named.
There were also 16 civilians, mostly Navy personnel, but obviously including suppliers of medical equipment, supplies and medicine.
Aside from the discrepancy with respect to the number of accused (is it 57 or 45?), the SB tends to show other signs of sloppiness: it changes the rank of an officer between one set of cases and another; there are other inconsistencies between the Accused list and the penned decision as to how many officers and how many private individuals are accused in the three different sets of cases – for example, in the malversation case, the Accused list names 12 officers and 5 private individuals, but SB Presiding Justice Tang (the ponente) names only 6 officers and five private individuals.
With all these discrepancies, errors and inconsistencies, on the part of the SB, we seem not only have to have justice delayed and denied, but also justice confused.