This is why we cannot rely on this government’s justice system to dispense justice.
In January 1991, the defense lawyers sought Bobbie Malay’s provisional freedom on juidical recognizance after a national and international campaign for her release that began in August 1990 gained momentum. The campaign made a breakthrough that led to Bobbie’s releaseon on November 5, 1991.
In December 1990, the Department of Justice took the position that Bobbie may be freed on humanitarian grounds — she hadto attend to her Satur’s two teenage children and her own ageing parents. The courts hearing the cases of murder and violation of PD 1866 readily ordered her release sans bail. The two other courts hearing the identical kidnapping charges denied her motion for release. Instead they required bail hearings to determine if there was strong evidence to warrant the military prosecutor’s objection to Bobbie’s being released on bail.
“It was important that one of us got out of prison to take care of teh children.They were near and yet so far,and Bobbie’s parents were not getting any younger.It didn’t matter if Bobbie got out earlier than I did– what mattered if that one of us at least got out,” Satur recalled.
Philippine jurisprudence allowsjudges the discretion to grant bail in a non-bailable case if the evidence against the accused is not strong. In both hearings, the military prosecutor presented the same set of witnesses,who were cross-examined by the defense lawyers.
“Walanaman talaga silang witnesses.Gawa-gawa at imbento ang lahat ng kaso.It was a generic set of charges na handa silang isampa sa kahit sinong aktibistang mahuli nila.In that sense it was obvious that the legal system of the GRP as it was was a sham.There wasno truth involved — all it boiled down to was pinning me and other detainees down with the laws they crafted but they also twisted beyond recognition,” he said.
On February 1,1991, one of the courts granted a bail of P50,000 for Bobbie’s release. This was already a strong indication that there was no strong evidence against her or Satur. The other court decided to hear out all the witnesses of the prosecution before deciding on the bail question.
Meantime, the court hearing the murder charge wound up the trial. On July 30,1991, the court acquitted both Satur and Bobbie for insufficiency of evidence. It was a significant victory.
On October 30,1991, the court completed hearing the prosecution’s kidnapping charge alsoacquitted Satur and Bobbie. The court found no evidence of kidnapping because the supposed victim himself DENIED that he was kidnapped and dclared that he had no complaint against either Satur or Bobbie. Another victory.
A partial victory was also won in the PD 1866 case. After sitting on the defense motion to quash the charge and the search warrant issued by a lower court that was used by the military to raid Satur’s rented room from where they alleged to have found two handguns that were presented as evidence, the court issued a ruling on July 8, 1991. The court quashed the search warrant for having been improperly issued, and ordered that PD 1866 be changed to ‘simple rebellion.’
As was expected, the military prosecutor moved for a reconsideration of the twin decisions favoring Satur. Satur’s lawyer moved for the dismissal of the case in view of the quashing of the search warrant that, in effect, barred the military from using any item taken during the raid as evidence against the accused. The court required both sides to submit their written arguments on the basis of which it would rule.
It was at this point that the military prosecutor offered Satur a proposal for his early release. Acting on instructionsof his superiors, the military prosecutor offered Satur his freedom, “but after the May 1992 elections” and in exchange for his pleading of guilty to subversion. The offer supposedly took into account that Satur had already been detained for 11 years.
Satur, in turn, was incredulous.Why should he plead guilty to subversion and not to rebellion for which he should have been immediately freed, given that he had been held almost for the equivalent maximum penalty for rebellion?
“Parang lokohan na talaga.Ano ako,sira ulo na biglang aamin sa salang rebelyon e kahit kailan di naman nila ako kinasuhan nang ganung krimen?”
The prosecution could only give the lame reply that ‘rebellion was more difficult to prove.’
He was also told point-blank that the military did not want him freed before the polls because he might foment trouble.
On that,Satur rejected the proposal and declared he would rather fight out the two remaining cases.
By December 1991,the the military prosecutor revised his offer: Satur’s immediate release after he pleads guilty to rebellion. He countered — ‘why not charge me with rebellion first?” He wanted to see what was behind the military’s offer, he knew there was a brewing scheme. He had not been charged with rebellion ever because it was a bailable offense.
The military prosecutor backed off, again giving the lame excuse that he was authorized to only make the offer and if Satur refused, the military will continue to oppose all his moves for release on bail or will file additional charges to keep him in prison.
Satur saw malevolence in the military’s move and decided that he would never agree to a plea bargain.It was clear to him that after failing to convict him of rebellin for the last seven years, and failing to convict him for murder and kidnapping, the military will also fail to convict him on the two remaining charges.The military, Satur was convinced, wanted Satur to bow and admit defeat. He vowed he would not allow that. He would not give the military or the Aquino regime the right to say that his incarceration in the last almost 12 years was correct. #