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April 30, 2014

Drilon vs. CA

Facts:
- In 1973, the private respondents were charged with double murder before Military Commission No. 34.
- July 27, 1973: the military promulgated a decision acquitting Raul Paredes but sentencing Rodolfo Ganzon to life imprisonment with hard labor. Paredes was thereupon released from custody while Ganzon was made to serve sentence until he was released on March 25, 1978 and placed under house arrest under guard. 3 In 1985, Ganzon joined the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), the party in power, where he was designated as campaign manager.
- In 1988, administration having changed, then Secretary of Justice Sedfrey Ordoñez directed State Prosecutor Aurelio Trampe to conduct a preliminary investigation against the private respondents for the above murders. The private respondents moved for dismissal, in Ganzon's case, on the ground that he, Ganzon, had been extended an absolute pardon by the President Ferdinand Marcos, and he, having been previously convicted, can no longer be tried anew, and in Paredes' case, on the ground that he, Paredes, had been acquitted. Trampe, however, denied both requests and reconsideration having been likewise denied, the private respondents went to the Court of Appeals on prohibition.
- The CA granted their petitions.
- The petitioners allege that the Court of Appeals, in granting prohibition, committed a grave abuse of discretion: (1) Rodolfo Ganzon has not adequately proved the fact of presidential pardon; (2) there exists no evidence in the files of the Govemment to prove pardon; (3) Ganzon's copy is a bare machine copy and Ganzon has failed to adequately establish the loss of the original; (4) the alleged pardon (or copy of it) had not been properly sealed and authenticated, or executed in official Malacañang stationery; and (5) the disposition of the murder cases by the military does not preclude the filing of new informations by the civilian government.

Issue:
WON the Government may proceed criminally against the private respondents despite verdict earlier rendered by Military Commission No. 34.

Held:

To the mind of the Court, Ganzon has accepted the judgment against him, and as Tan (case of Tan) asked, "why should [he] who has accepted the justness of the verdict of the military court who is satisfied that he had a fair hearing, and who is willing to serve his sentence in full, be dragged through the harrow of another hearing in a civil court to risk being convicted a second time perchance to serve a heavier penalty?"

Under the 1973 Constitution, as is under the present Cha the "pardoning power" of the President (that is, to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, remit fines and forfeitures) is final and unappealable so is commutation of sentence, in which the Chief Executive reduces a sentence. It extinguishes criminal liability partially, and has the effect of changing the penalty to a lesser one.

The Court does not believe, in Ganzon's case, that commutation of sentence need be in a specific form. It is sufficient, to mind, that Ganzon was voluntarily released in 1978 wit terms or conditions, except that he should remain under house arrest. The Court can not consider Ganzon's house arrest as a continuation of his sentence, first, because in no way is arrest a penalty, but rather a mere means of "taking ... a person custody in order that he may be forthcoming to answer for commission of an offense," or, during early martial law, a means to carry out Proclamation No. 1881, and second, because of the records own scant condition as the exact terms of his "house arrest" (which, parenthetically, no longer exists.) Hence, the view of the Court is that irrespective of the "pardon," Ganzon has served his sentence and to reiterate, he can no longer be reinvestigated for the same offense, much more undergo further imprisonment to complete his service.

The Court therefore need not consider whether or not Rodolfo Ganzon had been pardoned, and whatever "pardon" the former President may have extended to him did not erase the fact that as early as 1978, he was a free man. Of course, he was supposed to have remained under house arrest but as we said, not as a continuation of his sentence, but pursuant to Marcos' vast arrest and commitment powers during martial rule. The question — of whether or not he should continue to remain under house arrest — is also a moot question as we noted, 28 and arrests except upon lawful judicial orders are no longer possible. The Court's disposition, it is true, leaves Ganzon to all intents and purposes "scot-free", yet whatever liberal treatment he may have received is not his fault either, and in the second place, "worse" people have been better rewarded in this regime.

Petition denied. Decision of the CA affirmed.

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