Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Court Doctrine

FACTS: Petitioners, who were civilians, were charged before Military Commission No. 1 with murder and unlawful possession of a pistol. They were acquitted. Two informations for illegal possession of a firearm and murder were filed against petitioners in the Regional Trial Court on the basis of the claim of the government that the proceedings before the military commission were void, since it had no jurisdiction over civilians.

HELD: The decision nullifying the proceedings in military commissions against civilians cannot adversely affect petitioners, who were not parties to the case. To apply the ruling to them will violate their right to due process. In the interest of justice, the decision should be applied prospectively to future cases and cases where no final decision had been rendered. It will be a cruel distortion of the decision to reprosecute civilians who have been acquitted. The trial of civilians by military commission is an operative fact that may not be justly ignored. The doctrine of double jeopardy protects petitioner from a second prosecution. To deprive them of the protection of the judgment of acquittal by retroactively divesting the military commission of its jurisdiction over them will amount to an ex post facto ruling. (Tan vs. Barrios, 190 SCRA 686)

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