Are Teves and Quiboloy exempt from the law?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Former congressman Arnie Teves, accused of multiple murder, has been expelled from Congress, his passport has been cancelled, and he has been declared a terrorist. But the fact is he is as free as a bird, chirping his happy way somewhere. Pastor Apollo Quiboloy has been summoned to the Senate but refuses to appear. He allegedly has some serious criminal cases in the US but he is as free as the monkey-eating eagles in Mount Apo. There is an extradition treaty but no one can touch him. He is an appointed son of God.

In this country and in many others, when small and powerless men and women are suspected of crimes, they are immediately arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and jailed. Some are even summarily executed like that teenage boy in Navotas. A poor farmer in Pangasinan, by simple error of identity of a mango tree, was jailed for days for "stealing" mangoes worth less than a thousand pesos. But when powerful politicians are accused of allegedly plundering billions, they are never jailed for humanitarian reasons, due to old age. There was once a case regarding Kuratong Baleleng where then senator Panfilo Lacson was implicated. He never submitted himself to authority. He hid but continued to be a senator. We can write volumes of such compartmentalized justice or selective injustices in this beloved nation, but we would rather not.

The annals of our jurisprudence are replete with decisions that consider running away from the law as a clear admission of guilt. In People of the Philippines vs. Ramil Mores, GR 189846 decided on June 26, 2013, Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro wrote: “Flight in criminal law is the evading of the course of justice by voluntarily withdrawing oneself in order to avoid arrest or detention or the institution or continuance of criminal proceedings. In one case, this Court had stated that it is well-established that the flight of an accused is competent evidence to indicate his guilt; and flight, when unexplained, is a circumstance from which an inference of guilt may be drawn. Indeed, the wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the innocent are as bold as a lion"

In that case, the Supreme Court said: "From the foregoing, we have no other recourse but to sustain appellant’s conviction for the complex crime of Murder with Multiple Attempted Murder. As correctly explained by the Court of Appeals, the single act of pitching or rolling the hand grenade on the floor of the gymnasium which resulted in the death of Ramie Balasa and injuries to other victims constituted a complex crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code which states that when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period." I am sure that the lawyers of Teves are aware of this. The family of Governor Degamo has been forever deprived of their husband and father. Teves is as free as a mockingbird.

Leonardo-de Castro continued in People vs. Mores: "The penalty for the most serious crime of Murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion perpetua to DEATH. Thus, applying Article 48, the death penalty should be imposed. However, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346, the proper sentence therefore is reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole." The murder of Degamo and the killing of the teenager in Navotas by policemen are strong arguments for the revival of the death penalty. In another case, People vs. Emeterio Medina, GR 214473, June 22, 2016, the court held that running away is a clear indication of guilt. Let that apply to Teves and Quiboloy too.

In Medina, Justice Perez wrote for the Highest Court: Mention-worthy is appellant's immediate flight from his home shortly after the incident and his evasion of arrest for more than six years. Jurisprudence has repeatedly declared that flight is an indication of guilt. The flight of an accused, in the absence of a credible explanation, would be a circumstance from which an inference of guilt may be established for a truly innocent person would normally grasp the first available opportunity to defend himself and assert his innocence. In the case at bar, appellant's flight incontestably evidenced guilt.

If we really have a government of laws and not a government of powerful men, let all these legal principles apply to all, though the heavens may fall.

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