Mia Gonzales, for a cover story in Newsbreak in 2004, was tracked down by police officers today in Malacanang (she wasn’t there) in order to, according to the police: “find out where she lived to serve the arrest warrant, because she had changed residence” (ANC News, Nov. 13, 2006, 5:00pm). In other words, an arrest warrant had been issued in her name for libel filed by the First Gentleman.
Her lawyers know what to do, and that is to post bail right away (the right to question the legality of the arrest warrant is not waived even with the posting of bail, under the new rules)
That is not at issue here. Even if journalists and reporters publicly say that they will not be cowed by any kind of threat, any kind of arrest warrant served on anybody without the prosecutors and the law enforcers having observed all the required steps, i.e., without the person having an idea that he/she is about to be arrested, would scare the living daylights out of anyone at that precise moment the arrest warrant is being served, not because those persons are cowards or easily frightened, but because no one wants to be grabbed and handcuffed and hauled into a van by unknown men even if that is by virtue of an arrest warrant. It is the trauma that goes with all the physical enforcement that goes with the service of an arrest warrant that the law, jurisprudence, and the Supreme Court, seek to prevent — even prohibit – and that is why every respondent has the right to a preliminary investigation and a copy of the resolution and the right to appeal the resolution. While this right is merely statutory, it is nevertheless legally demandable, and the failure to observe this right renders even the arrest warrant quashable.
As in this case.
The respondents here were never given copies of the Resolution (or the result of their preliminary investigation; you have the statutory right to appeal the results of your preliminary investigation). In Torralba vs. Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court invalidated the results of the preliminary investigation on the same ground.
If it can be shown that the DOJ or the prosecutors are ruling in favor of the First Gentleman without a prima facie case (if the subject matter is of public concern and has substantial basis, it is covered by free speech, (Garrison vs. Lousiana, U.S. vs. Bustos, up to Borjal vs. Court of Appeals, there’s a long line of cases from 1907 to 1999, or about 100 years of jurisprudence that says matters of public concern with substantial basis are covered by free speech; and therefore not libelous and should be dismissed), the prosecutors should be taken to court for grave abuse of discretion.
It can be done. It has been done. (Go vs. Court of Appeals, Salonga vs. Cruz-Pano, Torralba vs. Sandiganbayan, Allado vs. Diokno, etc.: a line of cases on this). Prosecutors can be questioned on certiorari, especially in this case where they are doing the bidding of the First Gentleman who has filed libel complaints against 43 journalists.
The admonition of the Supreme Court against prosecutors (see Allado vs. Diokno) that fiscals and prosecutors are not ordinary lawyers out to win a case, should be borne in mind. In that case, the Supreme Court admonished prosecutors and invalidated the results of their preliminary investigation:
“ (T)he prosecutors have similarly misappropriated, if not abused their discretion.xxx For the prosecuting officer `is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of the sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnest and vigor – indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.xxx Perhaps, this case would not have reached this Court if petitioners were ordinary people submissive to the dictates of government. They would have been illegally arrested xxx Then we would not have the opportunity to rectify the injustice. Fortunately, the victims of injustice are lawyers who are vigilant of their rights, who fight for their liberty and freedom not otherwise available to those who cower in fear and subjection.” (Allado vs. Diokno)
Those prosecutors doing the bidding of the First Gentleman in violation of their sworn duty, should be taken to court.
(and if a case can be built against the First Gentleman, too. Let me look that up and get back here.)