Political Law

Horacio Morales, Jr. vs Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile et al

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G.R. No. L-61016 – 121 SCRA 538 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Bill of Rights – Habeas Corpus – The Right to Bail

In April 1982, Morales and some others were arrested while driving a motor vehicle in Laong-Laan St, QC. They were charged in CFI Rizal for rebellion punishable under the RPC. Morales alleged that they were arrested without any warrant of arrest; that their constitutional rights were violated, among them the right to counsel, the right to remain silent, the right to a speedy and public trial, and the right to bail. Respondents countered that the group of Morales were already under surveillance for some time before they were arrested and that the warrantless arrest done is valid and at the same time the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was already suspended.

ISSUE: Whether or not Morales et al can post bail.

HELD: Normally, rebellion being a non-capital offense is bailable. But because the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus remains suspended “”with respect to persons at present detained as well as other who may hereafter be similarly detained for the crimes of insurrection or rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and for all other crimes and offenses committed by them in furtherance of or on the occasion thereof, or incident thereto, or in connection therewith,”” the natural consequence is that the right to bail for the commission of anyone of the said offenses is also suspended. To hold otherwise would defeat the very purpose of the suspension. Therefore, where the offense for which the detainee was arrested is anyone of the said offenses he has no right to bail even after the charges are filed in court. The crimes of rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and crimes or offenses committed in furtherance thereof or in connection therewith constitute direct attacks on the life of the State. Just as an individual has right to self-defense when his life is endangered, so does the State. The suspension of the privilege of the writ is to enable the State to hold in preventive imprisonment pending investigation and trial those persons who plot against it and commit acts that endanger the State’s very existence. For this measure of self-defense to be effective, the right to bail must also be deemed suspended with respect to these offenses. However, there is a difference between preventive and punitive imprisonment. Where the filing of charges in court or the trial of such charges already filed becomes protracted without any justifiable reason, the detention becomes punitive in character and the detainee regains his right to freedom. Quite notable in this case however is that the 2nd division of the SC reiterated the Lansang Doctrine as opposed to what they ruled in the Garcia-Padilla Case.

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