Under the law (RA 6981), two types of prospective witnesses may seek admission into the witness protection program

Under the law (RA 6981), two types of prospective witnesses may seek admission into the witness protection program.  First, when a person has witnessed or has knowledge or information on the commission of the crime. This is governed by section 3 of the Act.  Secondwhen a person has participated in the commission of a crime.  This is provided in section 10 thereof which reads:

“Sec. 10. State Witness.  Any person who has participated in the commission of a crime and desires to be a witness for the State, can apply and, if qualified as determined in this Act and by the Department, shall be admitted into the Program whenever the following circumstances are present.

a) the offense in which his testimony will be used is a grave felony as defined under the Revised Penal Code or its equivalent under special laws;

b) there is absolute necessity for his testimony;

c) there is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed;

d) his testimony can be substantially corroborated in its material points;

e) he does not appear to be the most guilty; and

f) he has not at any time been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.”

Being a participes criminis under the information for violation of Article 212 of the Revised Penal Code, respondent Roque evidently falls within the scope of the aforequoted provision.

Two of the legal requirements are at issue in this case: first, whether or not private respondent Roque’s testimony can be substantially corroborated in its material points and, second, whether or not he does not appear to be the most guilty.

x x x x

. . . [I]t is significant to note that the statements made by respondent Sanchez sufficiently dovetail respondent Roque’s testimony in its material points.

x x x x

As regards the second point, petitioner argues that respondent Roque is the most guilty.  However, petitioner proceeds from the false assumption that Roque, being a public officer, is ipso facto the most guilty in the offense of corruption of public officials under Article 212 of the Revised Penal Code.  This is more imagined than real.

x x x x

In this case, it appears that respondent Roque was specifically sought by the petitioner after his initial campaign against illegal gambling.  In point of fact, it was petitioner who approached and insistently offered bribe to Roque in exchange for the protection for the former’s illegal gambling activities.  x x x

x x x x

WE HOLD THAT THE ADMISSION OF A POTENTIAL WITNESS UNDER RA 6981 IS A MATTER ADDRESSED TO THE SOUND DISCRETION OF THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE.

x x x x[6] (Underscoring in the original; emphasis and capitalization of last paragraph quoted supplied)

Hence, the present petition for review, petitioner faulting the appellate court to have, in the main, decided his petition for certiorari

a.) . . . IN UTTER DISREGARD OF THE CLEAR PROVISIONS OF THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM ON THE NON-ADMISSIBILITY OF POTENCIANO ROQUE AS A WITNESS CONSIDERING THAT HE IS A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER AND HIS TESTIMONY COULD NOT BE SUBSTANTIALLY CORROBORATED IN ITS MATERIAL POINTS WITH ANGELITO SANCHEZ (SECTION 3 (d) AND (b), RA No. 6981);

b.) . . . IN UTTER DISREGARD OF THE CLEAR PROVISION OF THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM ON THE CIRCUMSTANCE THAT WITNESS ROQUE APPEARS TO BE THE MOST GUILTY (SECTION 10 (e), RA 6981);

x x x x[7]

The petition fails.

In Sec. Guingona, Jr. v. Court of Appeals[8] which cited the following ruling in Webb v. Hon. de Leon:[9]

[T]he prosecution of crimes appertains to the executive department of government whose principal power and responsibility is to see that our laws are faithfully executed.  A necessary component of this power to execute our laws is the right to prosecute their violators.  The right to prosecute vests the prosecutor with a wide range of discretion—the discretion of whether, what and whom to charge, the exercise of which depends on a smorgasbord of factors which are best appreciated by prosecutors.  We thus hold that it is not constitutionally impermissible for Congress to enact R.A. No. 6981 vesting in the Department of Justice the power to determine who can 
qualify as a witness in the program and who shall be granted immunity from prosecution.[10]  (Emphasis and underscoring supplied), this Court held that it should “leave to the executive branch the decision on how best to administer the Witness Protection Program.”

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/resolutions/2006/aug/131460.htm

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About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Criminal Law, Prosecutorial Power, Testimony of Witnesses, Witness Protection Program and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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