PNP official in Atimonan rubout loses contempt case

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MANILA -- A lawyer and a relative of scions of prominent families who were killed by policemen in an anti-carnapping operation in Pasig City in 2005 will not be penalized by the Supreme Court (SC) for commenting on a case against Senior Superintendent Hansel Marantan.

Voting 5-0, the SC Third Division junked the indirect contempt charges against human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno and his client Monique Cu-Unjieng La’o, whose son Anton was one of those killed by Marantan’s group, in relation to their television interview on January 29, 2013.

The interview came three weeks after Marantan was implicated in the murder of 13 people including suspected gambling lord and gun-for-hire syndicate king Vic Siman in Atimonan, Quezon.

Marantan alleged that Diokno and Cu-Unjieng La'o made "intemperate and unreasonable comments" for branding him and his co-accused guilty of murder in the killing of three men accused of being members of a carnapping syndicate in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

However, the SC said the respondents are entitled to their opinion of the case.

It also found no malice when Diokno and Cu-Unjieng La'o reiterated their call to charge Marantan and four others with murder before the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 265.

"A review of their comments reveals that they were simply stating that it had not yet resolved their petition. There was no complaint, express or implied, that an inordinate amount of time had passed since the petition was filed before the Court. There appears no attack or insult on the dignity of the Court either," the SC said.

For a person to be punished for contempt, the SC said there must be a "criminal intent to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice."

"In the present case, such necessity is wanting," it said. (Sunnex)

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