If I need a lawyer right now, have no money and any one of the lawyers identified with LP volunteers to be my counsel, I think I’ll just tell them “Thank you” for the gesture but I would rather bet on PAO lawyers to represent me in court.
If you say I was crazy, I bet you would agree with me after you read how Atty. Erin Tanada from LP was schooled by DDS lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles on legal debate like determining who is qualified to to be admitted to the WPP (Witness Protection Program).
If you have been out of the loop lately and missed Atty. Erin Tanada’s statement that Peter Joemel Bikoy Advincula cannot be admitted to the WPP because he has bee convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, well, bad for you.
Anyway, this is the best time to catch up with the news, especially if you are interested to know the status of Bikoy’s allegation versus several LP personalities.
So without further adieu, let me direct you to Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles demolition of Atty. Erin Tanada’s statement on Bikoy’s application to the WPP.
Is Atty. Tañada misleading the public?
He says that Peter Joemel Advincula cannot be admitted to the Witness Protection Program because he has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
Atty. Tañada is either mistaken or misleading the public. There are two kinds of witnesses covered by RA 6981, the law providing for the witness protection program.
There is the ordinary witness testifying before a court or administrative body who may be admitted to the program whose primary benefits yunder the law are personal protection and the protection of family members, livelihood or job security, possible relocation if warranted, and indemnifiaction of his family should he or she be killed as a result of his or her testimony.
Such a witness need not be a state witness.
The same law provides for criteria to be discharged as a state witness. A state witness has committed a crime and can witness against the others who committed the same crime with him.
Atty. Tañada mixes the two up. A person who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude may not be a state witness. But he can be admitted to the witness protection program.
Uulitin ko. Pwede ma admit sa witness protection program kahit hindi state witness. Kahit may conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude. Ang bawal lang sa ex convict ay maging state witness.
According to Republic Act No. 6981 or AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A WITNESS PROTECTION, SECURITY AND BENEFIT PROGRAM AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, these are the requirements for witness protection:
Section 3. Admission into the Program. – Any person who has witnessed or has knowledge or information on the commission of a crime and has testified or is testifying or about to testify before any judicial or quasi-judicial body, or before any investigating authority, may be admitted into the Program:
a) the offense in which his testimony will be used is a grave felony as defined under the Revised Penal Code, or its equivalent under special laws;lawphi1Ÿ
b) his testimony can be substantially corroborated in its material points;
c) he or any member of his family within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity is subjected to threats to his life or bodily injury or there is a likelihood that he will be killed, forced, intimidated, harassed or corrupted to prevent him from testifying, or to testify falsely, or evasively, because or on account of his testimony; and
d) he is not a law enforcement officer, even if he would be testifying against the other law enforcement officers. In such a case, only the immediate members of his family may avail themselves of the protection provided for under this Act.
If the Department, after examination of said applicant and other relevant facts, is convinced that the requirements of this Act and its implementing rules and regulations have been complied with, it shall admit said applicant to the Program, require said witness to execute a sworn statement detailing his knowledge or information on the commission of the crime, and thereafter issue the proper certification. For purposes of this Act, any such person admitted to the Program shall be known as the Witness.
The same law states that:
Section 10. State Witness. – Any person who has participated in the commission of a crime and desires to be a witness for the State, can apply and, if qualified as determined in this Act and by the Department, shall be admitted into the Program whenever the following circumstances are present:
(a) the offense in which his testimony will be used is a grave felony as defined under the Revised Penal Code or its equivalent under special laws;
(b) there is absolute necessity for his testimony;
(c) there is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed:
(d) his testimony can be substantially corroborated on its material points;
(e) he does not appear to be most guilty; and
(f) he has not at any time been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.