Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Odol V. Gonzalez Jr.: Admission by silence?

An old, established principle in criminal law is that an offer of compromise can be seen as an implied admission of guilt.
This principle is well-entrenched, and scribbled in the rules of evidence, as well as in a stream of decisions of the supreme court.
There have been reports, sourced from the side of New Bian Yek Commercial, that the camp of the honorable Valencia mayor Rodolfo V. Gonzalez, Jr. has offered to effect an out of court settlement with New Bian Yek Commercial.
As we know, the supreme court has directed the Ombudsman to file criminal charges against Gonzalez for violation of the anti graft and corrupt practices act.
This stemmed from the illegal release by Gonzalez of retention money which is public funds, even after he was already prohibited by a court from so doing.
By releasing retention money, it injured primarily the people of the Philippines, who owned that money, as well as New Bian Yek Commercial, who was banking on that retention money for satisfaction of its unpaid credit, arising from its sale of pipes.

Deafening silence
What is very telling is the deafening sound of silence by mayor Gonzalez over this report that his side is trying to compromise with Bian Yek Commerical.
I think, personally, as a friendly advice to Gonzalez---whom we consider our friend—this is not the time to keep mum.
If he has been adviced to remain silent, such advice is misplaced.
Gonzalez is not under custodial investigation, so to invoke the right to remain silent is out of place.

Incriminating silence

On the contrary, silence here can be incriminating.
By keeping silent, Gonzalez can be taken to be making an admission.
In law, it is called “admission by silence
The act, declaration or OMMISSION of a party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him, the rules of evidence say.
Gonzalez’ omission to react or deny declarations that he is trying to offer a compromise can be taken against him and be viewed as an admission.
Admission by silence” under our rules, is clearly defined.
A declaration made within the observation of a party who does or says nothing when the declaration is such as naturally to call for action or comment if not true, and when proper and possible for him to do so, may be given in evidence against him,” says the rule.
One who never comes out to deny a particular declaration when, by natural instinct or reaction the situation calls for a denial, is likely to have affirmed such declaration.
As a candidate he needs to address this, specially to his constituents, from whom he courts precious votes in the coming May elections.

Implied admission of guilt

This reported offer of compromise is very serious because it can be received in evidence in the Sandiganbayan as an admission of guilt of the Valencia mayor.
Under the rules of evidence it provides that: “In criminal cases, except those involving quasi-offenses (criminal negligence) or those allowed by law to be compromised, an offer of compromise by the accused may be received in evidence as an implied admission of guilt.”
In numerous cases the supreme court also has affirmed this rule.
For instance, in Dr. Ma. Cristina B. Seares versus Hon Rosita B. Salazar (A.M. No. MTJ-98-1160. November 22, 2000) the court ruled: “a criminal act is a violation against the State. The conviction of the perpetrators thereof is a concern of the State… in cases expressly allowed by law, crimes are not subject to amicable settlement
To my mind, the offer of compromise, followed by an eerie yet deafening silence, plus the absence of any denial, but instead supplying a “no comment” response, completes the recipe for an implied admission of guilt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Arnaiz CoC...
Period of residence in the Philippines before May 10,2010 is 55 years and 9 months. In the calendar that would be August 9, 1954.

How can he have been a resident in the Philippines since August 9, 1954 when according to his CoC he was born on February 21, 1955. Hahaha...Ay naku!

I would not have realized that if not for your thorough examination. Thanks.