SolGen objects to NUPL snub of rules in amparo hearings

State lawyers on Thursday voiced their objection in the Court of Appeals (CA) over the deliberate flaunting of pre-set court rules by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in connection with the latter’s petition for amparo suit against the government.

The CA terminated its hearings Thursday and magistrates announced that it considers the case submitted for resolution after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said the government does not intend to call any witness for its case.

Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Villanueva-Miranda and Associate Solicitor Marlon Bosantog made known their continuing objection that the NUPL failed to observe the previously agreed upon arrangement that counsels would provide a copy of the witnesses’ judicial affidavits at least five days before the scheduled hearing.

Copies of the judicial affidavits of NUPL Panay chief Rene Estocapio and former senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares were sent on July 16. Bosantog explained that “while they are not averse to conducting a cross-examination on the witnesses” ignoring the rule would violate the procedural right to due process of the government officials named in the suit.

Aside from requiring the parties to send copies of judicial affidavits to opposing counsels five days before scheduled hearings, the CA in two resolutions last May 20 and July 16 had “sternly warned the parties” that in case of non-compliance, “witnesses (with late judicial affidavits) will not be allowed to testify”.

In the case of Colmenares, Bosantog underscored that his judicial affidavit was signed in Quezon City but was notarized in Makati City.

The OSG reminded that it had previously voiced no objection to the decision of the court to forego with the strict application of the rule of amparo that required day to day hearings and the requirement that judicial affidavits of witnesses must be attached to the original petition.

The CA last week turned down a plea for a temporary protection order (TPO) sought by the NUPL in a nine-page resolution dated July 11 penned by Associate Justice Pedro B. Corales.

Associate Justices Stephen C. Cruz and Germano Francisco D. Legaspi concurred.

Likewise, during the hearing, the government lawyers also posted their objection to the offer of documentary evidence made by the NUPL particularly of newspaper clippings and printouts of newspaper reports quoting military officials.

“These are clearly hearsay twice removed,” Bosantog said.

They also said “leaflets” supposedly identifying specific NUPL members as sympathizers of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) should likewise be considered “hearsay” as its authorship could not be established. (PNA)

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