Legal Ethics

People of the Philippines vs Pablo Esquivel

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G.R. No. L-1701 – 82 Phil. 453 – Legal Ethics – Duty of a Prosecutor in the Government ServiceĀ 

In 1946, a group of armed men robbed two jeepney drivers and divested them of the jeepneys they were driving. They also killed the two drivers. Five of the malefactors were arrested: Amado Dizon, Pablo Esquivel, Ben Pascual, Simplico Navarro and Gorgonio Rivera. The last two later on became state witnesses. On the strength of these two’s testimonies, Dizon, Esquivel, and Pascual were convicted. Only Dizon and Esquivel appealed the conviction.

Their appeal is grounded on the fact that Navarro’s and Rivera’s testimonies were conflicting.

ISSUE: Whether or not the conviction is correct.

HELD: No, but only as to the conviction of Esquivel – the conviction of Dizon is sustained. It was found by the Supreme Court that in both testimonies sworn by Navarro and Rivera, that Esquivel played no active hand in the commission of the crime. The testimonies of the two as to the participation of Esquivel is likewise conflicting as when Rivera testified that it was Esquivel who suggested the killing of the drivers while on the other hand Navarro testified that it was someone else. This was never clarified by the prosecution – therefore, Esquivel’s conviction is based on shaky grounds.

The case for the prosecution was not presented with the care and thoroughness which the gravity of the offense demanded. There is absolute necessity for a government prosecutor to lay before the court the pertinent facts at their disposal with methodical and meticulous attention, clarifying contradictions and filling up gaps and loopholes in their evidence, to the end that the court’s mind may not be tortured by doubts, that the innocent may not suffer and the guilty not escape unpunished. Obvious to all, this is the prosecution’s prime duty to the court, to the accused, and to the state.

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