Truth Commission unconstitutional – NALJP

PNS — THE National Association of Lawyers for Justice and Peace (NALJP) yesterday cautioned that the creation of the Truth Commission would be a violation of the Constitution.

NALJP chairman Atty. Jesus Santos said legal research by their group pointed out that the Truth Commission would be unconstitutional since it will violate the equal protection of the law for singling out for investigation former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and officials of her administration.

Santos said the commission violates the constitutional presumption of innocence on two grounds: It presumes guilt despite prior investigation and dismissal by the Ombudsman of the same charges and by announcing the plan to investigate the Arroyo administration through the commission even before the same is organized.

“It is of doubtful legal validity to supplant, supersede and sideline the functions of the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate public officials without amending the Constitution,” according to Santos.

Santos said the Truth Commission cannot replace the Office of the Ombudsman in the constitutional task to investigate and prosecute public officials for acts done in the performance of official duties.

“Prosecution must be with the proper body duly created by the Constitution and by the law, based on the evidence and not by advance publicity,” Santos said.

The NALJP added that the plan to replace Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez by claiming that she is entitled only to the unexpired term of former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo is arbitrary and unfounded in fact and in law.

“Marcelo resigned, and Gutierrez was appointed to a full seven-year term, to which she is entitled to serve under the Constitution,” Santos said.