Capital of Repression III - The Release Of The Twins
By night however, it is a splendid sight to behold. The powerful lamps light up the City Hall reminding us of its Commonwealth roots, were it not for the hideous pale color that hogs the entire City Hall.
At around a quarter before 11 p.m., Marvic, Marlon and I proceeded to Rm. 317 where Inquest Fiscal Glenda Ramos held office. But before we arrived there, media, as expected, was already ahead of everyone. When we entered her room, the fiscal was still conducting some inquest proceedings on vagrants.
When she saw us, she knew the case at hand. She demanded only the Arrested Twins, their lawyers and the police-complainants ought to be present. But we informed her that President Cory Aquino was here and it would be in keeping with the dignity of being a past president of the Republic that she be allowed to witness the whole proceeding instead of waiting outside. Fiscal Ramos relented.
When our case was called, Supt. Pedrozo was examined by the fiscal. As her typical practice, she required Pedrozo to recite the facts of the case. The fiscal specifically asked him what he meant by “lighting rally”. It should have been lightning rally but haste and presence of the Cory made Atty. Paglinawan commit the laspsus. Pedrozo could not categorically give an answer. After all, how can the Baywalk Stroll be termed a lightning rally when the Baywalk Trolls saw the strollers eating their curds and whey at the Aristocrat.
If Supt. Pedrozo was a lion growling in the Aristocrat sidewalk, he was a picture of a meek lamb being led to slaughter. The fiscal asked her searching questions (though not necessarily in this order and I may have paraphrased) like:
Q(uestion): Was there violence”.
A(nswer): No, Ma’m;
Q: Were there streamers, placards, banners?
A: No, Ma’m; Q:
Q: Was it peaceful?
A: Yes, Ma’m.
Q: What do you mean by lightning rally?
A: We have intelligence reports of what they will do.
Q: What will they do?
A: Chant the words in their t-shirt.
Q: If there were 50 of them as you claimed, why did you only arrest two of them?
A: Because only two were crossing the street.
Q: I don’t understand, where were the participants situated?
A: Aristocrat sidewalk.
Q: They were not in the Baywalk.
A: No, Ma’m.
Of course, Supt. Pedrozo was a meek and mild mannered man before the fiscal. He did not prepare his own affidavit. The contents were prepared by Supt. Paglinawan in our presence. He was briefed of the contents shortly before we left for the City Hall.
In fact, Fiscal Ramos could not understand Supt. Pedrozo’s account. So, she asked Pedrozo to draw the situation. Although cross-examination is not allowed in inquest and preliminary investigations, the fiscal allowed Marvic and I to ask questions on the positions of the protagonists on the drawing. The policeman admitted that he arrested them while the two were crossing the street. In other words, they never even had the chance to do the thumbs down sign on Baywalk.
After grilling Pedrozo, the fiscal decided that based on the documents presented and the absence of a Counter-Affdavit from the two, she cannot file an Information before the Court. She suggested therefore to refer the case to further investigation. That was the objective we wanted in the first place in the event the complaint cannot be dismissed outright by the inquest fiscal.
But unlike in Quezon City, and according to the fiscal, even if no Information is filed against the two, they will still remain under the custody of the PNP, i.e., they stay in jail overnight. Supt. Pedroso clarified that they want to take custody of Dinky and Enteng but the sense I got from him was that he was under very strict orders to secure the arrest and custody of Dinky. He kept on arguing even when the fiscal shushed him already.
To which we, lawyers, disagreed. These were the same set of circumstances that happened to Prof. Randy David in Quezon City and he was released pending further investigation.
Marvic mentioned to the fiscal that she either files an Information in Court or set the two free. Otherwise, they will be guilty of Arbitrary Detention. I also reasoned with the fiscal that considering that since she cannot confidently determine that the facts amount to a violation of B. P. Blg 880, the Arrested Twins therefore continue to enjoy the presumption of innocence and must be released.
In addition, I mentioned that the Joint Affidavit was defective as Pedroso himself did not have personal knowledge of what the Black Friday Protests entailed and that he cannot even define what a lightning rally was.
Marvic decried the laws were applied unevenly in Manila. It is very clear that criminal procedures are governed by the Rules of Criminal Procedure but the fiscal said that Manila has its own charter and therefore, the remedial rules on procedure apply differently.
Our arguments with the fiscal went back and forth. Until the fiscal said that she is willing to release the two to the custody of Cory Aquino. To which Cory jestingly told the two: “Pagnasa custody ko kayong dalawa, magbehave kayo ha!” .
Marvic then mentioned that custody of the two need not be reposed only on Cory but also on Congresswoman Dina Abad (spouse of Butch Abad) and on Congressman Noynoy Aquino. Thereupon, I went outside and called Noynoy and Dina in.
As an aside, when Congressman Noynoy came in, the fiscal addressed him as Senator Aquino to which I kidded: "That is a prophetic statement". That mistake or prophecy brought a certain levity to the whole proceeding.
Then the fiscal wanted to see how many people participated and she was told 22, more or less. So, again, I went out and called out all who were wearing black shirts to come in and show to the fiscal that they were only 22 and not 50 as claimed by their Joint Affidavit of Arrest. The scene was like a local chieftain dispensing justice to his savants.
But just to be sure that she will still have a job on Monday, Fiscal Ramos had to secure the approval of her superior who I heard her addressed him as Chief. When she reached the Chief, she explained the situation to him regarding the custody of the two. The Chief told her to call him back in 15 minutes. Our speculation was the Chief called up someone higher to make sure that he does not lose his job come Monday. As to who the Chief called, we can only speculate.
After 15 minutes, the fiscal called back her Chief and got instructions which the fiscal noted down. The instructions were upon verbal approval of the Chief, Dinky and Enteng were going to be released from custody, and pending further investigation, they will receive subpoenas to appear at the next scheduled hearing to be provided in the subpoenas. This, I think, was undoutedbly made possible out of respect to the former president Cory.
When they went down to the ground floor, a crowd had gathered outside the City Hall and as soon as they saw Dinky and Enteng coming out of the building, they broke into applause, lit the candles in a formation of the word “FREE” and sang the walang kamatayang “BAYAN KO”. Leah Navarro was there to catch the events on camera. An inspiring sight.
It was an exhaustive night for all, but especially to Dinky and Enteng. It was providential that Cory insisted on coming. Even when she is no longer in power, her presence continues to exude all the good, all the proud, all the noble that was EDSA.
In the end, we were happy to secure their release from the custody of the PNP. That was the main objective of the whole exercise last Black Friday night. Quite obviously, they failed to spite, humiliate or insult Dinky. I guess better luck, next time.
Has the dam broke? I hope so.
Come join the next Black Friday Protest. It will be worth a semester of Civics class in college.