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Two W. Visayas judges get threats; police ready to provide escorts  
Thursday, January 05, 2006 THE Regional Operation and Planning Division (ROPD) in Camp Delgado has recorded two judges in Western Visayas getting death threats. Regional Trial Court Judges Jose Azarraga, of Iloilo and Rudy Castrojas of Antique reportedly are getting death threats. Senior Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office 6 deputy regional director for operation, revealed that said threats were given solutions. The police regional command did not elaborate on the cause for Azarraga's death threats and where it happened. Azarraga is now residing in Capiz province. For Castrojas, his conviction on the accused in the Evelio Javier killing was identified as the motive for the threat. Last January 28, 2005, a reported assassination plot for Castrojas was exposed. The fracas started after several witnesses including the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces (Isaf) tipped Castrojas that one of the convicts in the Javier killing, Elizer Edemni, was seen in Iloilo City and Pototan onboard a private vehicle with a Tagalog-speaking armed group. Edemni's group was said to have proceeded to Pototan, Iloilo and met with Sangguniang Bayan Member Fraulen "Palpal" Cordero with the plan to kil Castrojas. Pototan Mayor Pablo Perez confirmed the presence of Edemni in Pototan despite his conviction and supposed detention in the Antique Provincial Jail. Castrojas added that it was Isaf that validated the assassination attempt against his life. A week after, Antique Gov. Salvacion Zaldevar-Perez ordered the outright transfer of the Javier killing convicts to Muntinlupa. Escorts Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office through Deputy Regional Director for Operation (DRDO) Senior Supt. Isagani Cuevas, said they are willing to provide escorts to judges who received death threats. This is aside from frisking every person who enters the Ramon Avancena Hall of Justice. Cuevas said the temporary detail of said escorts to judges or even to public officials receiving threats is one month. However, it could be extended, depending on the assessment of the Police Security and Protective Office (PSPO). "Our office can provide temporary detail of our personnel for the judges while awaiting the approval of PSPO," Cuevas in a radio interview said. It was learned that the police visibility at the Iloilo Hall of Justice is being strengthened recently because of several bomb threats received. This also came after Pasay RTC Judge Henrick Gingoyon was gunned down last Dec. 31, 2005. Suspects The suspects in the killing were identified as Rodolfo Cruer, who was earlier reported as Robel Barocaluer Jr., the gunman;, Rudy Baclor, the look-out; and Filemon Romero who provided the gun used in the crime. As to the alleged involvement of Senior Superintendent Manuel Barcena of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Civil Security Group, Mantele said they do not have yet evidence to link the police official to the crime. Senior Superintendent Benjardi Mantele, chief of the Cavite police, said they are still considering in their investigation Gingoyon's previous dispute with Barcena. Barcena denied any involvement in the judge's killing. He said he is ready to face any investigation as regards the incident to prove his innocence. Arrest The police Wednesday announced the arrest of a man who allegedly paid seven suspected members of a "gun-for-hire" group operating in Cavite province P150,000 to kill Gingoyon. Mantele identified the suspect as Danny Hajid who was captured in Cavite early Wednesday morning. Mantele said Hajid and the seven other suspects will stay in the Cavite Provincial Police Headquarters pending the filing of murder charges against them. Mantele said they have enough evidence that would show the suspects' participation in the killing of Gingoyon. He said apart from the witnesses' testimonies, there is one among the suspects who admitted that they were paid by Hajid to assassinate the judge. He said they could not present the suspects to the public until charges have been filed against them. He assured the suspects' families that those who would be found innocent of the crime would be released. Gingoyon was walking home to Soldier's Hills Village, Brgy. Molino Bacoor, Cavite when a man crossed his path and shot him.( Jay Dooma Balnig and Ruby P. Silubrico /Sunnex) (January 5, 2006 issue)
High court lets gov't run new airport terminal  
Wednesday, December 21, 2005 MANILA -- The government won the bid to operate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3, at a price of over P3 billion to be paid to the Philippine International Air Terminals Company Inc. (Piatco). Piatco had won the bid to construct the facility. Voting 11-4, the Supreme Court en banc lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued to prevent the release of over P3 billion that government deposited for the expropriation of Terminal 3. In an en banc decision penned by Associate Justice Dante Tinga, the high court upheld the January 4 resolution of Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 117 presiding Judge Henrick Gingoyon who ruled that the issuance of a writ of possession was pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 8974 and not Section 2, Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The SC also ordered the Pasay court to determine within 60 days from the finality of the decision the just compensation that government must pay to Piatco. "The court has the duty to implement Republic Act (RA) 8974 and to direct compliance with the requirement of immediate payment in this case. Accordingly, the writ of possession dated December 21, 2004 should be held in abeyance pending proof of actual payment by the government to Piatco of the proffered value of the Naia 3 facilities, which totals P3,002,125,000," the SC added. Under Rule 67, before government can take possession of the property to be expropriated, the deposit of an amount equivalent to the assessed value of the property for taxation purposes is sufficient for the time being, until the conclusion of the court proceedings where both parties shall have proven their claims and the court shall have made a factual determination of the price property. RA 8974 or An Act to Facilitate the Acquisition of Right-of-Way, Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and For Other Purposes), on the other hand, requires 100 percent payment to the property owner to be entitled to a writ of possession. "Once the government pays Piatco the amount of the proffered value of P3 billion, it will be entitled to the writ of possession," the SC said. Gingoyon, using RA 8974 as basis, ordered the Land Bank to immediately release the amount of US$62.3 million to Piatco, which the lower court said was "specifically made available by the government for the purpose of expropriation" and which would be deducted from the amount of just compensation due to Piatco as determined by the RTC. The SC said the P3 billion would have to be paid pending the determination of the actual and just compensation due to Piatco. In ruling against the government, the high court said allowing Rule 67 to be applied on the present case would be in contrast to its 2003 decision voiding for being contrary to law and public policy the concession for the build-operate-and-transfer arrangement of the Naia 3 entered into between the government and Piatco. The agreement authorized Piatco to build Naia 3, as well as a franchise to operate and maintain the terminal during the concession period of 25 years. The contracts, however, were nullified reportedly because Paircargo Consortium, predecessor of Piatco, did not possess the requisite financial capacity when it was awarded the Naia 3 contract and that the agreement was contrary to public policy. The government, in its petition for review filed before the SC, argued that Gingoyon erred when he ordered the immediate release of the amount of US$62.3 million to Piatco considering that the assessed value of Naia 3 facilities was only P3 billion. The SC explained that the amount of US$62.3 million was based on the certification issued by Land Bank-Baclaran branch that the government maintained a total balance amounting to such amount. But, the high tribunal noted, the actual representation of the amount "is not clear" although the government claims in its memorandum that the entire amount was made available as a "guaranty fund for the final and executory judgment of the writ of possession." "One could readily conclude that the entire amount of US$62.3 million was intended by the government to answer for whatever guaranties may be rewired for the purpose of the expropriation complaint," the court said. The SC also upheld the legality of the January 7 resolution of the lower court appointing three commissioners to determine the amount of just compensation for the Naia 3 without prior consultation with the government and Piatco. "Nothing in Rule 67 or Republic Act 8974 requires the RTC to consult with the parties in the expropriation case on who should be appointed as commissioners. Neither does the court feel that such a requirement should be imposed in this case," the court added. The court also junked the petition of the government for Gingoyon to inhibit himself from the case. (ECV/Sunnex)
Speak out: Culture of violence  
Sunday, January 08, 2006 By Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) Region 7 (The following is a manifesto of the Free Legal Assistance Group-Region 7 released in Cebu City on Jan. 4, 2006.) SHOCKED by the brutal assassination of its member, Pasay City Regional Trial Court Judge Henrick Gingoyon in Bacoor, Cavite on Dec. 31, 2005; SADDENED by the loss of a young, honest, and patriotic member of the judiciary who rendered decisions on controversial cases without fear or favor and who decided a landmark case involving billions of pesos that was later on affirmed by the Supreme Court; COGNIZANT of the fact that the heinous murder of Judge Gingoyon is an aftermath of the culture of violence that has pervaded our country today and which has spawned unsolved murders, assassinations, summary executions of suspected criminals and killings of activists and political dissenters; AWARE of our duty as advocates of the rule of law, guardians of human rights, sentinels of justice, and defenders of the Constitution; WE, the members of the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) Region 7, hereby condemn in the strongest possible terms the cowardly and brutal assassination of our member and colleague; WE DENOUNCE the culture of violence pervading in our country today with the proliferation of unsolved murders of lawyers, judges, journalists and businessmen, assassinations of political dissenters and activists, and the rise of vigilantism in violation of the rule of law and the Constitution; WE CALL on the government to use its full powers to put an end to this culture of violence that has become a blight on this beloved land; and WE URGE the government to do everything possible to effect the early solution of the Gingoyon murder by arresting and prosecuting the real killers and their masterminds, and doing away with “fall guys” as well as solve the murders against lawyers, judges, journalists and political dissenters.
'Financier' of judge's murder apprehended  
Thursday, January 05, 2006 By Jonathan F. Fernandez * 7 suspects in Gingoyon slay now in police custody POLICE announced on Wednesday the arrest of a man who allegedly paid seven suspected members of a "gun-for-hire" group operating in Cavite province P150,000 to kill Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Henrick Gingoyon last Saturday. Senior Superintendent Benjardi Mantele, chief of the Cavite police, identified the suspect as Danny Hajid who was captured in Cavite early Wednesday morning. Mantele said Hajid and the seven other suspects will stay in the Cavite Provincial Police Headquarters pending the filing of murder charges against them. Other suspects in the crime arrested by combined police and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) include Rodolfo Cruer, who was earlier reported as Robel Barocaluer Jr. and the alleged gunman; Rudy Baclor, who acted as lookout; Filemon Rabino, who provided the gun used in the killing; Mark Datas; Etten Samonte; Rafael Arciaga; and Gregorio Ignacio. Mantele said they have enough evidence that would show the suspects' participation in the killing of Gingoyon. He said apart from the witnesses' testimonies, there is one among the suspects who admitted that they were paid by Hajid to assassinate the judge. He said they could not present the suspects to the public until charges have been filed against them. He assured the suspects' families that those who would be found innocent of the crime would be released. As to the alleged involvement of Senior Superintendent Manuel Barcena of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Civil Security Group, Mantele said they do not have yet evidence to link the police official to the crime. He however said they are still considering in their investigation Gingoyon's previous dispute with Barcena. Barcena had denied any involvement in the judge's killing. He said he is ready to face any investigation as regards the incident to prove his innocence. He said there was no reason for him to order the killing of Gingoyon because his row with the judge was related to his job as a policeman and was nothing personal. Furthermore, he said he won the legal battle over Gingoyon when the Supreme Court (SC) found him liable of gross ignorance of the law he had filed against the judge. Gingoyon got the ire of Barcena when he dismissed the drug cases involving two Chinese nationals lodged by the police colonel in 2002. The dispute became worse when Barcena allegedly ordered the strafing of Gingoyon's house in Bacoor, Cavite. (Sunnex) (January 5, 2006 issue)
Judge: Prayer our best protection  
Wednesday, January 04, 2006 By Jay Dooma Balnig A JUDGE assigned in a special court yesterday said that prayer is the most powerful tool by judges against those who are attempting to kill them. Judge Victor Gelvezon of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 36 said this. Branch 36 is a drug court, which is vulnerable to danger because it rules life sentences and death penalties to convicts. Executive Judge Rene Hortillo of RTC agrees. "I always rely on prayer and I can handle the threat," Gelvezon said. But, Gelvezon admits that like some judges, he possesses a firearm in order to protect himself. Gelvezon added that like other individuals, they experience difficulty in securing a Permit to Carry a Firearm (PTFC) outside one's residence. He said that he applied for PTC issuance in Camp Crame through the Regional Police Office 6 (PRO6) but no action was taken in the last two years. Judge Adriano Savillo of RTC 30 said that possessing firearms somehow gives judges a chance against their assailants. RTC 30 is a family court that handles cases of rape, whereby convicts get the death penalty. Savillo also condemned the government's inability to solve crimes against judges. His reaction came after two gunmen killed Pasay RTC Judge Henrick Gingoyon, a resident of Cavite, a few maters from his residence. Gingoyon was once a Public State Prosecutor who handled the Evelio Javier Murder in Antique according to Atty. Gevero, a clerk of court of Judge Rudy Castrojas of the Antique RTC. Arrested Meanwhile, combined National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and police operatives apprehended yesterday three suspects in the killing of Judge Gingoyon. In Malacanang, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo congratulated the police for the arrest. In a press briefing, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. identified the suspects as Robel Barocaluer Jr., the alleged gunman; Rudy Baclor, who acted as lookout; and Filemon Romero, who provided the gun used in the crime. Gonzalez said the three were captured in their suspected hideout in Cavite province. He said the suspects have not identified who ordered the killing of Gingoyon but claimed that a personal grudge could be the motive behind the incident. He said they are looking into the judge's previous dispute with a police official whom he refused to name. Gingoyon was walking toward his house in Soldier's Hills Village in Barangay Molino in Bacoor, Cavite after working out in a gym when a man blocked his path and shot at him repeatedly. Witnesses rushed the victim to a nearby hospital but he died before reaching it. Senior Superintendent Manuel Barcena of the Philippine National Police-Civil Security Group (PNP-CSG), upon learning of accusations of his alleged involvement in the crime, denied he ordered the murder of Gingoyon. Barcena said although he had a previous dispute with the judge, it was related to his job as a policeman and nothing personal. "I brought my battle with judge Gingoyon to legal forum until I won the ignorance of the law case I filed with the Supreme Court (SC) against the judge last October 2005," he said. He said he is willing to face any investigation as regards the accusation to prove his innocence. He condoled with the family of the judge. The row between the two began in 2002 when Gingoyon dismissed the drug cases lodged by the police colonel. A group of still unidentified men strafed the judge's house allegedly on orders of Barcena, which he also denied. Meanwhile, President Arroyo ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that there would be no cover up or foot dragging in the resolution of the murder of Gingoyon. Arroyo acknowledged the arrest of three prime suspects in the killing of Gingoyon. Gonzalez, in his report to Arroyo, said the suspects are undergoing tactical interrogation in Cavite. He said he could not give any more details pending investigations but one of the three suspects had already confessed to his participation in the killing.(JDB/Sunnex) (January 4, 2006 issue)
Find real killers: judge's kin ask  
CEBU CITY -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo paid her last respects Friday to Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Henrick Gingoyon, whose family appealed for the arrest of his killers and "not just a set of fall guys." Arroyo spoke to the judge's mother Conchita and wife Maribeth at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Cebu City, then used a laptop to chat with Gingoyon's second daughter, Hyacinth, who is in the United States and cannot yet come home. "Her gesture is very much appreciated. I know that it is not easy for her to find the time to come here," said Gingoyon's eldest daughter, Hazel Beth, when sought for an interview. "But we hope that even after the media hype is over, the investigation on my father's death will continue and real justice is served. We hope that they can arrest the real killers and identify the real mastermind and not just a set of fall guys," she said. The police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have filed murder charges in Cavite against six men: Rodolfo Cuer, the alleged gunman; Danny Sulaliman, who allegedly gave Cuer money; Rudy Baclor, who has identified the mastermind as a certain "Eid"; Efren Samonte; Mark Datas, who allegedly drove the getaway motorcycle; and Filemon "Boy Negro" Rabino. Five others were freed Wednesday night for lack of evidence. Two lawyers' groups condemned the killing and called on government to end the "culture of violence" in the country. The Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag), of which Gingoyon was a member, lamented the unsolved murders of lawyers, judges, journalists, and businessmen. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter is also urging the government to solve the killing Gingoyon quickly. Presidential Security Group (PSG) operatives escorted Arroyo, who wore all black, at the wake. Before she arrived, the entire Sacred Heart Church compound was subjected to a security sweep using a bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois. Members of Gingoyon's family awaited Arroyo's arrival with banners crying for justice. Gingoyon's remains will be cremated on Sunday. His ashes will be brought to Manila, where Maribeth and the children will continue to stay. Rep. Antonio Cuenco (Cebu City, south) quoted President Arroyo as having assured the family of a speedy and comprehensive probe. "Right now, the family does not have bisa'g gamay na lang nga (not even the slightest) clue. Naa nay nadakpan but the investigators are still trying to identify the mastermind," Cuenco said. Hazel Beth, in an interview, said the President also asked about how they are and how they'll be when they return to Manila. While she quickly pointed out that they have no reason to doubt the initial findings released by the investigators, she said they just don't want to bring injustice to people by wrongfully accusing them of the crime. She maintained that the killing could not have been out of a personal grudge because the late judge had no known enemies. Flag said the recent killing is only a result of the culture of violence that has pervaded the country. In a resolution, Flag said the culture of violence "spawned unsolved murders, assassinations, summary executions of suspected criminals and killings of activists and political dissenters." The IBP, on the other hand, sees the killing as an "impact of lawlessness, deteriorating peace and order and lack of respect for the rule of law by elements of our society." The two lawyers' groups will submit their resolutions to the President, Philippine National Police Director Arturo Lomibao and the NBI. They urged the government to resolve the cases efficiently and quickly. (KNR/JGA of Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex) (January 7, 2006 issue)
Lee: Arming judges?  
Friday, January 06, 2006 By Kelvin King Lee Babble on THE recent killing of Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Henrick Gingoyon is a sad, depressing spectacle. News reports say that he was shot only a short distance from his house in Cavite, when he was on his way home after hitting the gym. On this short walk home, his path was blocked and he was shot at repeatedly. Judge Gingoyon never stood a chance. It is good to hear that several suspects in the murder are already in custody over the killing and some are already about to be charged formally. But it won't bring back a pillar of the law. He is now another lost piece of the already overburdened machinery of justice in the Philippines. The wheels of justice are barely able to turn in this country, due to clogged dockets and a lack of judges. And now we are losing judges due to murder. Judge Gingoyon is the fifth RTC judge to have been killed by unknown murderers. If even judges are not safe, what does that say about the ordinary Filipino? What does that say about the "Strong Republic?" The public outcry over this cold-blooded murder has led to some audacious suggestions from concerned sectors. Arm the judges, they said. Give them guns so that judges can protect themselves. Or at least give them have a fighting chance. I must disagree with this daring, though bold idea. Judges are not trained to fight. They are trained to think, to know the law, and in short, to judge. Not to shoot with guns ala Rambo. To give the thousands of judges and justices in the country guns is a risky proposition. You would be arming men and women who are untrained in the ways of gunfighting. You would be increasing the number of guns in an already gun-ridden society. You may even make the judges not only a danger to themselves, but to the people around them. You don't tell people in danger to arm themselves and go out fighting and likely dying in a blaze of glory. You protect people in danger. You make sure that there are men and women around to watch out for them, and keep them out of harm's way. This is why I agree with the proposition of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) for the establishment of a group tentatively called "Philippine Marshals." The PJA, speaking through its head, Judge Romeo F. Barza, in a statement decrying the killing of Judge Gingoyon, called for "the Supreme Court or the NBI to create the Philippine Marshals, who shall be similar to the US Marshals, dedicated to hunting down killers of judges and to provide protection and security to threatened judges." An organization dedicated to the protection of judges, who may become an endangered species due to their dwindling numbers, could be exactly what is needed to curb the threat to these men and women of the law. With protectors charged with primarily safeguarding their lives, judges can become a truly independent branch of the government, beholden to no one, and fearing nothing. The way things are now judges can probably be influenced by the strong possibility of death if they decide one way in their courtrooms. Give them defenders who will answer to the judges and the judges only, and we may well be on our way to vastly improving the judicial system's sanctity and image. The wheels of justice would be able to turn without fear. Judges are said to eat death threats for breakfast. But that doesn't mean we have to let judges eat bullets as well. We have to protect them, one way or the other. * * * * * An alternative solution to the dangers threatening judges, and even journalists, would be a total gun ban. If killers do not have their weapons of choice available, then it follows that killing will become much more difficult, and perhaps even deter killers from committing or even attempting these crimes at all. This of course, is nearly impossible to achieve. There are too many loose guns in our society, where guns are easily and readily available for anyone who would want one, at nearly any price range. My own family has suffered because of guns. My father was ambushed, shot and killed by guns in the prime of his life. I was barely 7 when that happened. I will always remember seeing my father in his coffin, with a visible bullet hole at his forehead. Images like that are seared in one's brain forever. It would take a gargantuan effort from our leaders to get rid of all the guns in the country. An effort that so far, no political leader has been willing to make, or even attempt. The fact remains however, that a solution to the problem of guns, the threat to judges and to journalists, must be found. And soon.
Brains in slay of judge identified  
Friday, January 06, 2006 CEBU CITY -- The family of Judge Henrick Gingoyon flew his body to Cebu Thursday, where his friends and relatives waited, amid the grim news that it had cost only P150,000 to order the judge's murder. A suspect in the New Year's Eve killing of the Pasay City judge pointed to a Muslim who held a grudge against the magistrate as the brains behind the murder. While being whisked away by police escorts, Rudy Baclor said he overheard five other suspects mentioning the name of the supposed mastermind as they were planning the attack in front of his house in Bacoor, Cavite. "They call the mastermind Eid... he is a Muslim. I overheard that he (Eid) held a grudge against the judge," Baclor told reporters in Camp Crame. Baclor didn't say, though, if "Eid" is the same alleged mastermind caught in Cavite last Wednesday morning. In Cebu, relatives and court employees gathered at the Sacred Heart Center Chapel, wearing white shirts or white armbands marked "Justice for Judge Henrick Gingoyon" and "Honorable in Life, Noble in Death." The Cebu City Council condoled with the families and relatives of the slain judge, and urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to "dig deeper" into the circumstances behind the killing. Protection Top police officials, including PNP Director Arturo Lomibao and Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes, refused to identify the brains, even as they said a shortlist is already in their hands. A Philippine News Agency dispatch reported Thursday that Senior Sup. Benjardi Mantele, chief of the Cavite police, identified Danny Hajid as the one who paid seven "guns-for-hire" P150,000 to kill the judge. Gingoyon's family, though, told Sun.Star Cebu Thursday they do not know Hajid. The family refused to comment when asked if they have cleared a police senior superintendent of suspicion, now that the mastermind has been tagged and the suspects caught. But if there were any threats to Gingoyon, he spared his family the details. "Dili siya gusto nga hangtod kami maapektohan kon unsay nanghitabo sa iyang trabaho (He didn't want us to be affected by what was happening in his work)," she said. Gingoyon's remains will be cremated Sunday and flown back to Manila. He would have turned 54 in May. Advocate In a resolution sponsored by Councilor Edgardo Labella and approved by all of its members, the council said there is a "paramount need to expedite the resolution" of the case, including that of other judges whose deaths remained unsolved. Vice Mayor Michael Rama and the city councilors paid tribute to Gingoyon as a "no-nonsense regional trial court judge" who wasn't afraid to take on high-profile cases. Labella described the University of the Visayas alumnus as "a prominent human rights advocate during the dark days of Martial Law." Gingoyon's death, the councilor said, is not only a loss to his family but to the judiciary, which is "mandated to ensure that the rule of law, instead of guns, will reign in our country." Two motorcycle-riding men shot Gingoyon while he was walking towards his house in Molino village, Bacoor town on New Year's Eve. Six of the suspects were arrested in separate raids last Tuesday. Hajid was caught the next day. For P150,000 Aside from Baclor, also presented to media were alleged gunman Rodolfo Cuer Jr., Danny Sulaiman alias Sahid Adam Sulaiman, Efren Samonte, Mark Samonte alias Mac Mac, and Felimon Rabino. Cuer denied involvement in the killing, in an interview with reporters. But in a statement, the Calabarzon police said Cuer admitted to having received P150,000 from Sulaiman to kill Gingoyon. Pressed if Gingoyon's handling of past cases could have prompted the murder, Chief Superintendent Jesus Versoza, police chief for Calabarzon, said: "It appears to be that." Among the high-profile cases that Gingoyon handled was the dispute over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal (NAIA) 3. In January 2005, he ordered the government to pay P3 billion as compensation to the builders of the NAIA 3, the Philippine International Air Terminals Co., before it could take over the airport. (AIV/RHM/JGA of Sun.Star Cebu/With PNA)
Espinoza: ”Killing of Judge Gingoyon  
Thursday, January 05, 2006 By Elias L. Espinoza The Supreme Court must have been so shaken by the murder of Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Henrick Gingoyon in Cavite that it is proposing measures to protect the judges. Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban announced recently his intention to create a special unit for the purpose. The police may consider the killing of Judge Gingoyon an isolated case but his death gives the impression here and abroad that we are a nation that no longer respects law and order. The police and other law enforcement agencies then should uncover the motive for the killing and they should bring those responsible before the bar of justice. I know Gingoyon well, thus I was shocked when I received a text message from pare Bobby Nalzaro in the afternoon of Dec. 31 informing me that the judge was shot and killed. There had been attempts before on the life of members of the judiciary but they escaped death, like then Lapu-Lapu City RTC Judge Leopoldo Cañete. Judge Gingoyon was not as lucky. People who resort to violence against members of the judiciary and the bar may be so desperate and have such a low regard for our justice system that they take the law into their own hands. But what would these desperate people get in killing lawyers and judges? Doing so because one has lost a case would not make any difference. It only contributes to the further deterioration of peace and order. Perhaps, the perceived corruption in the judiciary is what drives people to commit another wrong. But the means does not justify the end. There are available legal remedies that party litigants can avail of. On the other hand the Supreme Court, aside from giving protection to the judges, should also initiate programs and reforms to erase the negative perceptions that there are hoodlums in robes in the judiciary. The killing of Judge Gingoyon is another blot in the leadership of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whose presidency has been marred with accusation of election fraud and corruption by her relatives. I have not heard of any derogatory reports against Gingoyon during his stint as prosecutor and then judge. In fact, Cebu City RTC Judge Meinrado Paredes attested to the judge’s honesty and dedication to his work. Meanwhile, killings in the country have already reached alarming proportions--from the vigilante-style assassination of ex-convicts to murders of businessmen, lawyers and, recently, judges. In fact, Cebu City has earned the tag of “Murder City” when the unsolved murders went beyond 100 and the police still failed to identify the suspects and file cases against them. Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, while he was not pleased with the “Murder City” tag, has done nothing to curb the killings. Instead, he has issued statements that somehow encouraged vigilante-style assassinations.
Malilong: Henrick's murder  
Wednesday, January 04, 2006 By Frank Malilong The Other Side The first time I saw Henrick Gingoyon after he became a judge was a few days after All Saints’ Day last year. That turned out to be also the last. “Hapit `nya, Bay” (“Drop by, Pal”), was his parting shot as he and his wife lapped us at the Cebu City Sports Center track oval. I earlier complimented him about his well-developed muscles by asking if he has been working out. Under other circumstances, I would have irreverently asked, “Huwes ka, Judge, o call boy?” (“Are you a judge, Judge, or a call boy?”). Henrick and I were good friends. We graduated from the same law school and we both taught law in the College of Commerce of our alma mater, the University of the Visayas (UV). That was in the early ‘80. Laid back and at times flippant, he was the last person I expected to become the fiery advocate who espoused and defended the cause of militant labor later in the decade. But there he was in the tumultuous months following Edsa 1, in the forefront of many a labor strike, braving fire hoses and tangling with the police in picket lines. He and another UV alumnus, Armand Alforque were the bane of management, the firebrands who gave no inch and asked for none. One of them (I am not sure who) would later suffer through a strafing of his residence during which a family member, a little girl, was hit. I would not be surprised if, at that time, many people, mostly businessmen, wished him (and Armand) ill if not dead. But that was long, almost two decades ago. While Armand continues to handle labor cases, Henrick faded quietly into government service, first as prosecutor and later as regional trial court judge. Life in the judiciary is quiet, almost cloistered. Judges, it is said, are rarely heard; they are read. There are occasions, however, when the glare of publicity is unavoidable. In the case of Judge Gingoyon, the first was when he figured in that minor controversy over his presence in a “sing-along” joint. The second was when he ordered government to pay the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco) P3 billion for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. Then on Dec. 31, he was murdered. If death diminishes us, a violent one offends. An attack, such as an ambush, where the perpetrator exposes himself to no risk of physical harm is the highest form of cowardice. Even more cowardly is he who couldn’t do it himself and has to hire someone to carry the job for him. The police are investigating Henrick’s murder. I hope that they are able to arrest his killers sooner than later. I also hope the New People’s Army would join in the hunt. Whoever catches the killers, I hope, would shoot their balls away, before turning them (the suspects, not their appendages) over to the Court, and validate our belief in their inadequacy. How justice would be served so poetically by the convergence between the physical and figurative sense. (fmmalilong@yahoo.com)
Wenceslao: Gingoyon, Palma and the struggle  
Wednesday, January 04, 2006 By Bong O. Wenceslao When I think of Judge Henrick Gingoyon and former Supreme Court associate justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma, what I remember are the years of struggle against tyranny An unidentified gunman shot Gingoyon, who became popular for the Piatco case, in Cavite on Dec. 31 while Palma succumbed to asthma the other day. Before he left for Luzon, Gingoyon was one of the leading personalities of the struggle and, if I remember it right, was active in the labor movement. He was a member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag), together with lawyer Democrito Barcenas and now Judge Meinrado Paredes. About Flag, let me digress a bit. I remember founding a group of five students that we called Tacio (each letter of the word taken from our names) in Southwestern University. We had fire in our belly then and were familiar fixtures in many symposia sponsored by militant groups at that time, although we were “outsiders.” All of us were united in the idea that to fight the government of then president Ferdinand Marcos was justified. One time, we made known our message by distributing leaflets with the call “Ibagsak ang imperyalismo at inhustisya!” And during our meetings, we talked about bringing the struggle to a higher level by procuring firearms. Those were naïve thoughts, but when former senator Jose W. Diokno, who was the head of Flag then, was speaker in a symposium in Cebu, we made the move. We sought an audience with him then asked him if he could provide us with guns. He advised us instead to affiliate with either the SDs (social democrats) or NDs (national democrats). In the end, we never got a chance to use firearms but we did pursue the struggle until we went our separate ways when we left school. I steadied the course, sort of, and was inspired by the determination of high-profile elements of the struggle then, including, yes, Gingoyon and Palma. I do not know how much Gingoyon and Palma have changed years after the 1986 Edsa revolt and traditional politicians reclaimed their dominance over the country’s politics. But the judging from the path both have taken, I doubt if they ever let go of the principles they held on to in their early years. From the ‘80s to now is such a long span of time and many of the personalities of the struggle against tyranny and injustice have either been corrupted by the system or have become indifferent. Others are either continuing the fight or are pursuing it in a different way: while making a living. Still others, like Gingoyon and Palma, have passed away. How sad, indeed. (khanwens@yahoo.com/0915-9228651)
Judges condemn murder of colleague  
Wednesday, January 04, 2006 DAVAO CITY -- The Philippine Judges Association (PJA), headed by Judge Romeo F. Barza, has condemned in the strongest terms the murder of Pasay City Regional Trial Court Judge Henrick F. Gingoyon. Barza, a Dabawenyo, said the entire membership of the PJA "grieves profoundly over the cowardly and bestial killing" of Gingoyon, whom he described as "their fond comrade and fealty companion," last December 31 in Cavite while he was on his way home after a gym exercise. Gingoyon is the fifth RTC judge murdered by unknown assailants. Gingoyon, while he has not been assigned in Mindanao, was the special prosecutor sent by the Department of Justice more than 10 years ago to investigate the scandal-wracked rape and murder of 17-year-old high school student Charmaine Devee Palo. Palo's body was found in a vacant lot in Garden Heights along the Davao Medical School Foundation Drive in 1993. Scandal surrounded the case because the prime suspect, Kirat Balbuena, was a bodyguard of then First District Congressman Jesus G. Dureza. In a statement emailed to this paper Monday night, the PJA also urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to order the police and the National Bureau of Investigation "to immediately and without let-up pursue and seize the merciless killers and their mastermind and to bring all of them to the bar of justice." "It is indeed very ironic and heart-rending to the rational world to learn that another judge has been brutally murdered in broad daylight amidst the lingering yuletide joy awaiting the passing of the year 2005 and the coming of the New Year 2006," Barza said. The judges also requested newly assumed Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban to direct a deeper probe into the death of Gingoyon and other judges in the recent past. "The PJA, likewise, proposes the creation by the Supreme Court or the NBI of Philippine Marshals similar to US Marshals, dedicated to hunt down killers of judges and provide protection and security to threatened judges, especially those handling drug cases," said the statement, adding that the purpose is "to instill fear in the minds of criminals and hired assassins of being convicted and incarcerated." "Assassins are not afraid to die in combat, but they dread being jailed," it said, adding the presence of Philippine Marshals would serve as a deterrent to harming members of the judiciary. Dabawenyo leaders also condemned the murder of Judge Gingoyon in the strongest sense saying his death is a "big blow to our democratic system." "All lovers of democracy should mourn the passing of another fighter for justice," Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, himself a former government prosecutor, said. House Majority Leader Prospero C. Nograles on the other hand said "the passing of an honest magistrate like Gingoyon is a great loss to the country's justice system." Davao del Sur Representative Douglas Ra Cagas also strongly condemned the "dastardly and cowardly-done murder." Former justice secretary Silvestre Bello III, now general manager and CEO of Philippine Reclamation Authority, mourned the passing of Gingoyon who happens to be his personal friend. "He's not only a compañero but is also a personal friend. We were together for many years. He is a big loss not just personally but also to the cause of justice. We should condemn his killing," Bello said. Former city councilor Beethoven Orcullo, also a personal friend of Gingoyon, challenged the government to find immediately resolve the case and prove that it still has the capacity to protect and serve the people. "The brutal killing of Judge Gingoyon is an attack not only on his person and family but on the law profession and the entire judicial system. Government authorities should prove it is still capable of delivering justice to all victims of summary executions," Orcullo said. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex) (January 4, 2006 issue)
Pooled editorial: Assault on judges and journalists  
Wednesday, January 04, 2006 “The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder...” — Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet Judges are pretty much like journalists. Their jobs carry high risk. A judge’s decision can set off a litigant’s urge to kill. A journalist’s story or commentary can send a person to murderous rage. Threats on judges and journalists date back to the setting up of courts in the criminal justice system and the flexing of muscles by a freer press. It was only recently though that judges and journalists came to see the attacks truly serious. Common causes Body count has a lot to do with it. The Supreme Court lists 10 murders of judges since 1999, capped with the Dec. 31 killing of RTC Judge Henrick Gingoyon in Cavite City. Ten killings and they already complain of their being an endangered specie. Compare that with the 54 journalists gunned down since 1986. Yet, comparing the size of the threat on both sectors, is not as relevant as the common causes of the growing menace. These are (a) the behavior of judge or journalist that provokes the assault and (b) the culture of violence promoted by public officials who use crime to battle crime. Blaming the victim is not just the Kahlil Gibran mystic line. In actual practice, reason for murdering judge or journalist was at times supplied by the murdered himself. Resorting to violence Not a desirable theory as it slanders the deceased, but there were cases when the aggrieved person could not get justice from the judiciary or fairness from the press and thus resorted to violence, striking back at actual or perceived corruption or ineptness. The killing can be job-related and yet not for what the judge or journalist was bound to do under oath or work ethic. It might even have nothing to do with the case the judge handled or the article the journalist wrote. It can be as irrelevant as a love triangle or a land dispute. Still, a human life is extinguished. That deserves condemnation and, when judges and journalists are killed, heavier concern from the public. More disturbing A more disturbing reason for the growing number of attacks on judges and journalists is the cheapening of human life. How can the culture of violence not flourish when access to hired gun is so easy and police are unfit or unwilling to catch the killers? (Sun.Star Cebu)
A special unit to guard judges: SC chief justice  
Tuesday, January 03, 2006 MANILA -- Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said Monday the Supreme Court (SC) is planning to create a special unit to protect judges and investigate crimes against them. Panganiban saw the need for long-term precautionary measures for judges following the killing last Dec. 31 of Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Henrick Gingoyon in Cavite by two men. Panganiban appointed Associate Justice Cancio Garcia to head the team that will study the creation of a unit patterned after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) marshal system. “On a longer term, I think we need to give protection before crimes happen and after crimes happened to be sure that perpetrators are brought to justice. We are thinking of a similar solution that the US has made. It’s called the US Marshal System. It’s dedicated to solving cases against justices and judges especially cases involving assault on their persons, whether resulting in their death or otherwise,” he said. The idea of creating a special unit to handle cases against justices and judges was raised during a meeting of justices Monday. Sketch Panganiban also called on law enforcers to immediately catch the killers of Gingoyon and resolve other cases involving judges. Fellow judges and lawyers echoed Panganiban’s call and assailed the killing. Also Monday, police released a sketch of Gingoyon’s gunman, described to be between 28 to 30 years old, of medium built and between 5’8" to 5’9" tall. Police, however, still have to come out with a sketch of the gunman’s accomplice, who drove the motorcycle. An SC memorandum last April 5 mapped out a security program for members of the judiciary. The memorandum created the Committee on Security for Lower Court Judges within the Office of the Court Administrator. The memorandum allows judges to apply with the police for the assignment of a protective escort when they get death threats. “Should a lower court judge feel that he or she is under an imminent threat, or should the PNP deny his or her request for protective security detail, he or she may apply with the Security Committee for authority to designate a member of his staff as an escort,” the memorandum reads. A retired military colonel turned security consultant and firearms instructor, however, described the program as half-hearted and done more to “project the idea that something is being done rather than actually do something about the problem.” “Security is important, though, almost always lightly taken. We talk about operational security or security of important records and documents but never about personal protection,” said retired colonel Ceferino Layao, president of the Kamagong Gun Club Inc. Exemption As to the proposal to let judges carry guns, Layao said: “They are already allowed to. There is a law on that. They are even exempted from getting permits to carry. I believe that they should carry guns. Even if they say that it is not enough, at least it gives them a fighting chance. And it projects the idea that those who wish to harm our judges shall be dealt with seriously.” According to Layao, the idea that judges are fair game nowadays needs to be “hammered harder into the collective consciousness of the High Tribunal.” He described the SC memorandum as operating with unrealistic assumptions. He said the High Tribunal should get a more knowledgeable person or entity to do its security program and “put some teeth into their security arrangements.” Layao agrees on getting police as escorts. He said, however, that the SC must be mindful of the fact that only very few police personnel are trained in the intricacies of personal security detail and most of them are already assigned to higher-ranking government officials and the PNP officers corps. “The ones left are the ordinary cops. They may be dedicated but are they trained?” he said. And when asked about using staff members as escorts, Layao said: “Samot (Even worse).” Replacement The memorandum provides that only one employee of the court may be designated as an escort by the judge and that the person may carry his “personally owned” firearm but only if he has been previously granted the necessary permits for it. SC data showed that about 10 justices have been slain since November 1999. Panganiban also said Monday that he would work for the Judicial Bar Council (JBC) to hasten the replacement of Gingoyon so as not to jeopardize the cases pending before his court. Among these cases is the controversial Philippine International Air Terminals Company (Piatco) case, where Gingoyon ordered the government to pay P3 billion as compensation to the business consortium that put up the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal III. While noting that Gingoyon became popular due to the Piatco case, Panganiban said police investigators should also look into other possible motives behind his murder. Delay Also Monday, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to assist in the investigation on Gingoyon’s killing. “I don’t think there is that implication (with the Piatco case), but it may delay the process that’s why I will discuss this with the Chief Justice if there can be temporary assignment of a judge there although there is already a pairing judge of Judge Gingoyon, so the pairing judge can always act,” Gonzalez said. He said investigators are focusing on an alleged grudge between the magistrate and a police official. Gonzalez was referring to the case where Gingoyon was reprimanded by the SC and ordered to pay P20,000 fine for gross ignorance of the law for allowing a sheriff to use a vehicle confiscated from two Chinese nationals arrested during a buy-bust operation in 1998. Cavite Provincial Police Office Chief Benjardi Mantele also said Monday that they are still verifying information that a Cavite police commander, who is reported to have a grudge against the judge, had a hand in the killing. Even before the Piatco case, Gingoyon had earned a name as a former justice department prosecutor who handled key organized crime cases. (Sunnex/With KNR, PNA)
3 hired gunmen in Gingoyon slay nabbed (12:10 p.m.)  
Tuesday, January 03, 2006 MANILA -- Police arrested Tuesday the suspected gunman and his two cohorts in the murder of Pasay City Judge Henrick Gingoyon in Cavite last Saturday. The suspects were identified as Robel Daracalwel Jr., Filemon Romero and Rudy Baclor. Police investigation identified Daracalwel was as the gunman, Romero as the one who supplied the gun and Baclor acted as the lookout. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales in an ANC interview said the three were arrested in a joint police and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operatives operation in Cavite. In the same interview, Gonzales said a personal grudge could be the motive behind the slaying of Gingoyon. He said a police officer had a quarrel with Gingoyon in 2002, which even resulted to the filing of charges against each other and the relief of the police officer. The conflict between the police officer and Gingoyon arose from a drug complaint against two Chinese nationals, which was dismissed by the judge. The justice secretary refused to identify the police officer pending ongoing investigation. A team of prosecutors has been tasked to handle the case of Gingoyon. The 53-year-old Gingoyon was walking to his house when ambushed. He suffered five gunshot wounds. He was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians of Imus Medical Hospital. Gingoyon have handled several cases involving illegal drugs but the most celebrated was the ruling in favor to a private consortium that constructed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport's new terminal. In that decision, Gingoyon ordered the government to pay the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (PIATCO) P3 billion before the government could take over the airport terminal's operation. The Supreme Court in a ruling upheld Gingoyon's decision.
Cop denies hand in Gingoyon slay (12:30 p.m.)  
MANILA -- A police official linked to the murder of Pasay City Judge Henrick Gingoyon denied Tuesday any involvement in the slaying. Superintendent Manuel Barcena, Civil Relations Group deputy director for intelligence told reporters that his dispute with Gingoyon was purely legal and was in relation to the performance of his job. Barcena and Gingoyon filed counter-charges over a drug case, which the late judge dismissed. Barcena filed administrative charges against Gingoyon of which the late judge was disciplined by the Supreme Court for gross ignorance of the law and was ordered to pay a fine of P20,000. The late Gingoyon was penalized by the High Court for allowing the evidence in the drug case involving two Chinese nationals to be demurred (exempted) and for allowing the case to be appealed despite the constitutional prohibition. Gingoyon have also caused the relief of Barcena who was then chief of the Manila Drug Enforcement Office and was in floating status for sometime. Barcena said he would be ready to appear any investigation in relation to the murder of Gingoyon. The Pasay Judge was ambushed Saturday morning in Cavite and was pronounced dead on arrival by attending physicians in nearby hospital. Police arrested early Tuesday the suspected gunman and his two cohorts. The suspects were identified as Robel Daracalwel Jr., Filemon Romero and Rudy Baclor. Police investigation identified Daracalwel was as the gunman, Romero as the one who supplied the gun and Baclor acted as the lookout. Gingoyon have handled several cases involving illegal drugs but the most celebrated was the ruling in favor to a private consortium that constructed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport's new terminal.(Sunnex)
Police arrest 7 suspects in killing of Gingoyon (8:15 p.m.)  
MANILA -- Police and special agents on Tuesday arrested seven men allegedly involved in the killing of Judge Henrick Gingoyon, authorities said. One of those arrested was the alleged gunman who shot Gingoyon--a judge in the regional trial court in Manila's suburban Pasay City--on Dec. 31, said Nestor Mantaring, the acting director of the National Bureau of Investigation. The alleged gunman claimed he was only a lookout, but three witnesses said he was the assassin, Mantaring said, adding that the seven men taken into custody were allegedly part of a group involved in kidnappings, robberies and contract killings. Gingoyon was on his way home from a gym when he was shot from behind several times near his house in Bacoor town in Cavite province, south of Manila. Mantaring declined to speculate on a possible motive for the killing, saying the investigation was still ongoing. (AP)
Sketches of judge's killers released (2:51 p.m.)  
MANILA -- Police have drawn up cartographic pictures of the two men who shot dead Judge Henrick Gingoyon of the Pasay City court last Saturday in Bacoor, Cavite. Senior Superintendent Benjadri Mantele, chief of the Cavite police, said the descriptions of Gingoyon's killers were based on the testimonies of witnesses. Mantele said the witnesses revealed that the killers asked them about Gingoyon's normal routine. The assassins chanced upon Gingoyon while he was on his way home after working out in a gym located near his house at the Soldier's Hills Village in Barangay Molino. Gingoyon sustained several gunshot wounds at the back. (JFF)
Lawyers want Arroyo's action on judge slaying  
Monday, January 02, 2006 MANILA -- A lawyers' group urged President Gloria Macapagal on Sunday to move "swiftly and decisively" in investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of Pasay City Judge Henrick Gingoyon as police assured to leave no stone unturned in the probe. Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (Codal) in a statement condemns the slaying of Gingoyon and the impunity that rages the country with the unsolved killing of members of the legal profession, journalists and activists. Gingoyon was walking towards his house in Soldier's Hills Village, Molino 6 Saturday when ambushed by two unidentified suspects on board a motorcycle. He suffered four gunshot wounds on his body and was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians in nearby Imus General Hospital. "Judge Gingoyon's controversial decisions as a judge or his previous involvement as counsel of Bayan and KMU does not justify his killing. Members of the legal profession, like journalists and activists, must not be attacked for the practice of their profession or political beliefs. The attacks against lawyers and judges are attacks against the legal profession and civil liberties," Codal spokesperson Neri Javier Colmenares said in a statement. Cavite police authorities said they will look into all cases being handled by Gingoyon apart from the expropriation case between the government and the Philippine International Air Terminals Company (Piatco). Senior Supt. Benjardi Mantele, Cavite Provincial Police chief, said they have coordinated with the clerk of court of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court to secure records of Gingoyon's previous cases. "We are looking at all angles... we can't focus on a particular case," Mantele said, adding that investigators have taken the testimonies of two witnesses. Mantele said investigators would also look into Gingoyon's "personal dealings" for more clues on the case. In January last year, Gingoyon ordered the government to pay P62.3 million as initial payment to Piatco before it could take over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal-3. Earlier this month, the High Court upheld Gingoyon's ruling and ordered the government to pay Piatco a total of P3 billion for constructing the said airport. The consortium of German firm Fraport AG and its Filipino partners, Piatco, built a $650 million terminal in Manila under a deal with the government in 1998. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had rescinded the government's contract with Piatco in November 2002 due to alleged onerous provisions in the deal, prompting the company to seek compensation before local and foreign courts. Codal, which was originally organized by judges, lawyers and law students as the committee for the defenses against attacks on lawyers to protests the killing and harassment of members of the legal profession, circulated a Manifesto signed by hundreds of lawyers including Integrated Bar of the Philippines provincial chapters nationwide and international lawyers groups. Arroyo has yet to act on the manifesto on the killing of lawyers submitted by Codal in August 2005 urging her to publicly condemn the killing and harassment of members of the legal profession. Colmenares said Codal recorded 15 violent attacks against lawyers in 2005. Other than Judge Gingoyon, seven lawyers, many of whom were human rights lawyers, were killed in 2005: Felidito Dacut (Leyte), Norman Bocar (Samar), Ambrosio Matias and his son Leonard (Nueva Ecija), PAO lawyer Teresita Vidamo (Las Pinas), Victor Padilla (Manila) and Reuel Dalguntas (Davao). Human rights lawyer Charles Juloya was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt last March 2005. Lawyer Romeo Capulong, Judge ad Litem to the Yugoslavian International Criminal Tribunal and head of the Lawyer-Presentors of the Peoples Congress on Truth and Accountability (CCTA), was also the subject of an assassination attempt in Nueva Ecija. PAO lawyer Armando Cabalida was ambushed in February 2005 resulting in the death of his driver. "These brazen attacks undermine the practice of law and the ability of lawyers to fulfill their sworn obligation to serve their clients to the fullest," Colmenares said. "Judges are expected to promulgate their decision without fear or favor based on their evaluation of the evidence presented. Their decisions should not be influenced by the consideration of the capacity of one of the parties to physically eliminate them. The recent attacks, however, threaten the independence and integrity of judges thus making the effective administration of justice even more difficult or elusive. Canon 1 (Rule 1.03) of the Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a judge should be vigilant against any attempt to subvert the independence of the judiciary and resist any pressure from whatever source," he added. Colmenares calls on members of the legal profession to unite and protest against these attacks and threats on the legal profession and the justice system in the country. "We must end impunity and the breakdown of the justice system in the Philippines," he said. (Sunnex) (January 2, 2006 issue)
Judge in airport terminal case slain  
MANILA -- The judge handling the expropriation case between the government and the Philippine International Air Terminals Company (Piatco) was killed following an ambush in Bacoor town in Cavite, about 17 kilometers south of Manila, police said Saturday. Regional Trial Court Judge Henrick Gingoyon of Pasay City earlier ordered the government to pay Piatco, the contractor of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, a total of P3 billion for constructing the said airport. The 53-year-old Gingoyon was walking toward his house in Soldier's Hills Village, Molino 6 when ambushed by two unidentified suspects on board a motorcycle, said Senior Superintendent Benjardi Mantele, Cavite provincial police director. Mantele said Gingoyon suffered four gunshot wounds on his body and was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians in nearby Imus General Hospital. Investigators are still determining the identity of the assailants and verifying if the incident is related to the controversial Piatco case. In January last year, Gingoyon ordered the government to pay P62.3 million as initial payment to Piatco before it could take over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal-3. Earlier this month, the High Court upheld Gingoyon's ruling and ordered the government to pay Piatco a total of P3 billion for constructing the said airport. The consortium of German firm Fraport AG and its Filipino partners, Piatco, built a $650 million terminal in Manila under a deal with the government in 1998. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had rescinded the government's contract with Piatco in November 2002 due to alleged onerous provisions in the deal, prompting the company to seek compensation before local and foreign courts. Fraport AG had demanded compensation of $465 million, and the case is currently subject to international arbitration. The government has since taken over the terminal. Newly installed Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban condemned the killing of Gingoyon and urged police authorities to investigate and immediately arrest the culprits. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez on the other hand ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to assist the Cavite police in identifying the killers of Gingoyon.(JFF/Sunnex)
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