Dispatch from Crame No. 219: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on the CA decision absolving former Palawan Gov. Reyes in the Ortega murder case


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Justice Normandie Pizarro wrote the decision that absolved former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes of the murder of environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega. In his own ponencia, Pizarro calls his own decision exonerating Reyes a “miracle” and a second lease on Reyes’s life.

Justice Pizarro must be living in a bizarro world when he fancies himself like Jesus Christ performing a “miracle” to give the accused Reyes a second chance in life. But as pointed out by the Inquirer, there is no “miracle” here, only a gross miscarriage of justice.

The judiciary has been performing several “miracles” in the past couple of years, exonerating the powerful, influential, and well-connected, either even before trial or after conviction by the trial court.

The “judicial miracles” started with Enrile being granted bail by the Supreme Court in his plunder case. This was quickly followed by the complete exoneration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, again by the Supreme Court, even before any trial in her plunder case is conducted by the Sandiganbayan. Then came the reversal by the Court of Appeals of Janet Lim Napoles’s conviction for serious illegal detention or kidnapping, upon the instance of the Solicitor General himself.

Several other “miracles” continued to be performed on high-profile cases, most prominent among them being the virtual historic exoneration of the dictator Marcos for all crimes committed against the Filipino people, when the Supreme Court allowed his burial at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, despite the Court’s own past decisions that adjudged Marcos to have acquired ill-gotten wealth throughout his reign as dictator.

The latest “miracles” of course are the release of Jinggoy Estrada on bail despite previous rulings that the evidence of guilt against him for plunder is strong, and the dismissal of tax evasion charges against Jeane Napoles, Janet Lim Napoles’s high society-living daughter.

To the powerful, influential, and well-connected who have stolen millions of public funds or murdered hundreds of citizens, these might seem to be heaven-sent miracles. But to the public that is already disgusted with the plethora of acquittals and pre-trial exonerations performed by the judiciary, this is already judicial impunity at its worst in the history of the country.

With the concerted congressional and executive attack on the Chief Justice who is trying to put things in order in the judiciary, fighting insidious moves to weaken said institutions, and her eventual replacement with a minion of Malacañang, we can all expect these judicial “miracles” of impunity to become the new normal, in line with the unprecedented impunity promoted and perpetrated by the strongman and dictator-in-waiting Duterte.

Duterte’s assumption to power appears to have inflicted the entire government and its justice system with the impunity virus. It was therefore only a matter of time before an innovative judge took it a step further by calling the rape of justice and the desecration of the rule of law a “miracle” for all of us to behold.

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