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Palace urges appeal of SC ruling freeing Beltran, et al

Manila (4 June) -- Malacaņang is backing the move to appeal the Supreme Court decision that junked the government's rebellion case against Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran and five other militant party-list lawmakers.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said Sunday that Malacaņang respected and would fully abide by the Supreme Court ruling but supported the move of the Solicitor General to appeal it "because of its adverse effect on law enforcement."

"It is well within the rights of the Solicitor General as the statutory counsel of the national government to file this Motion for Reconsideration," Bunye said in a statement.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez told reporters Sunday the decision to file a motion for reconsideration was reached Friday night during a security cluster meeting, and the consensus was approved by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He said he then directed Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera to file the appeal.

"Personally, I don't think the Supreme Court will reverse itself. I'm not optimistic considering who wrote the decision," Gonzalez said.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who penned the decision ordering the dropping of rebellion charges against Beltran and the "Batasan 5" -- party-list Representatives Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Joel Virador, Teodoro Casiņo and Rafael Mariano -- also wrote the decision late last year dismissing the bid for a people's initiative to amend the Constitution, which was described as a "grand deception."

In the government's motion for reconsideration, Devanadera argued that the Supreme Court decision had "far-reaching and adverse consequences on the criminal justice system."

She said the decision undermined the trial courts' and prosecutors' prerogative to determine probable cause against respondents.

"Nobody will be charged anymore, even if you find 1,000 graves in Leyte, there will be no case. Because then that will be the imagination of the DOJ," Gonzalez had said on Friday.

Meanwhile, despite the court's Friday ruling, 74-year-old Beltran still spent the weekend in detention at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City.

The Philippine National Police said Sunday it would release Beltran as soon as the lawyers of the detained solon showed them a release order from the courts. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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