Another black mark on the judiciary
It seems our justice system has again gone askew after a Makati Regional Trial Court judge acquitted a policeman who killed a 13-year-old scavenger, supposedly because of insufficiency of evidence.
Supt. Angelo Germinal, who was dismissed from the service because of the murder case, may soon apply for reinstatement following his acquittal.
Germinal was accused of shooting and killing Christian Serrano who was looking for scrap metal in an abandoned building five years ago.
The police officer was positively identified by three witnesses but the court gave credence to the testimony of a police doctor, who is not a ballistics expert, that a bullet of a higher caliber killed the victim.
The witnesses had said that Germinal used a .22-caliber rifle —not a government issue — in shooting the boy.
Any first year law student will tell you that positive identification trumps any evidence, like the bullet used, in a murder case.
Dr. Voltaire Nulud, then chief of the medico legal division of the Southern Police District Crime Laboratory, admitted he was not a ballistics expert. But he said the bullet that killed Serrano was a .38-caliber slug which went through and through.
The supposed slug was never recovered, although two .22-caliber cartridges were found at the scene.
Nulud said that a .22-caliber slug was too small to lacerate and fracture Serrano’s bones, forgetting that the .22-caliber slug came from a rifle.
A bullet fired from a .22-caliber rifle is powerful enough to destroy human bones due to the force of its momentum.
There’s even a .22-caliber bullet, a Stinger, that expands to the size of a .38-caliber slug when it enters the body.
How could Judge Rico Sebastian Liwanag, who acquitted Germinal, and Judge Cristina Javalera-Sulit, who allowed the accused to post bail on the murder charge, have missed those angles?
They could have called in forensics or ballistics experts, not a medical doctor, to testify in court.
Judge Liwanag didn’t conduct a full-blown trial of the murder case; he just read the documents presented by the lawyers of Germinal and the victim’s parents.
The Makati City prosecutor, who should have been the prosecuting lawyer for the government, left the work entirely to a private lawyer.
The truism that the poor will often lose to the rich or powerful in court has proven true once more in the Germinal murder case.
But who can Serrano’s parents turn to now?
Germinal can no longer be charged with the same offense in another court because of the principle of double jeopardy.
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President Digong should fire the two Cabinet members alluded to in Tuesday’s column who are allegedly forcing Mighty Corp. to sell out to Japan Tobacco Corp. in order to pay the government P20 billion in delinquent taxes.
The owners of Mighty, a homegrown cigarette manufacturer, want the company sold to British-American Tobacco, but the two Cabinet officials insist on Japan Tobacco.
Otherwise, the owners will go to prison, the officials say.
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