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COMMENDADOR VS. DE VILLA [200 SCRA 80; G.R. NO.

93177; 2 AUG 1991] Thursday, February 12, 2009 Posted by Coffeeholic Writes Labels: Case Digests, Political Law

Facts: The petitioners in G.R. Nos. 93177 and 96948 who are officers of the AFP were directed to appear in person before the Pre-Trial Investigating Officers for the alleged participation the failed coup on December 1 to 9, 1989. Petitioners now claim that there was no pre-trial investigation of the charges as mandated by Article of War 71. A motion for dismissal was denied. Now, their motion for reconsideration. Alleging denial of due process.

In G.R. No. 95020, Ltc Jacinto Ligot applied for bail on June 5, 1990, but the application was denied by GCM No.14. He filed with the RTC a petition for certiorari and mandamus with prayer for provisional liberty and a writ of preliminary injunction. Judge of GCM then granted the provisional liberty. However he was not released immediately. The RTC now declared that even military men facing court martial proceedings can avail the right to bail.

The private respondents in G.R. No. 97454 filed with SC a petition for habeas corpus on the ground that they were being detained in Camp Crame without charges. The petition was referred to RTC. Finding after hearing that no formal charges had been filed against the petitioners after more than a year after their arrest, the trial court ordered their release.

Issues:

(1) Whether or Not there was a denial of due process.

(2) Whether or not there was a violation of the accused right to bail.

Held: NO denial of due process. Petitioners were given several opportunities to present their side at the pre-trial investigation, first at the scheduled hearing of February 12, 1990, and then again after the denial of their motion of February 21, 1990, when they were given until March 7, 1990, to submit their counter-affidavits. On that date, they filed instead a verbal motion for reconsideration which they were again asked to submit in writing. They had been expressly warned in the subpoena that "failure to submit counter-affidavits on the date specified shall be deemed a waiver of their right to submit controverting evidence." Petitioners have a right to pre-emptory challenge. (Right to challenge validity of members of G/SCM)

It is argued that since the private respondents are officers of the Armed Forces accused of violations of the Articles of War, the respondent courts have no authority to order their release and otherwise interfere with the court-martial proceedings. This is without merit. * The Regional Trial Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court over petitions for certiorari, prohibition or mandamus against inferior courts and other bodies and on petitions for habeas corpus and quo warranto.

The right to bail invoked by the private respondents has traditionally not been recognized and is not available in the military, as an exception to the general rule embodied in the Bill of Rights. The right to a speedy trial is given more emphasis in the military where the right to bail does not exist.

On the contention that they had not been charged after more than one year from their arrest, there was substantial compliance with the requirements of due process and the right to a speedy trial. The AFP Special Investigating Committee was able to complete the pre-charge investigation only after one year because hundreds of officers and thousands of enlisted men were involved in the failed coup.

Accordingly, in G.R. No. 93177, the petition is dismissed for lack of merit. In G.R. No. 96948, the petition is granted, and the respondents are directed to allow the petitioners to exercise the right of peremptory challenge under article 18 of the articles of war. In G.R. Nos. 95020 and 97454, the petitions are also granted, and the orders of the respondent courts for the release of the private respondents are hereby reversed and set aside. No costs