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Published by: Sajid Jacalne on Jun 29, 2012
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SECRETARY OF JUSTICE FACTS: The DOJ, through the Department of Justice, filed an Urgent Motion forRec onsideration on the January 4, 1999 issuance of the Supreme Court of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the execution of Echegaray. The DOJ, represented by the Solicitor General, argued that the Court nolonger has the authority to grant the TRO because:1.That the Court lost its jurisdiction the moment it rendered i ts judgmentthat is already final and executory;2.That it is encroaching on the p owers specifically vested by theSupreme Court to the executive department in gra nting the TRO;3.That the purpose sought to be achieved by the TRO is nil due to certainsupervening events that transpired.ISSUE:Whether or not the court abused its discretion in granting a TemporaryRestraining Order (TRO) on the execution o f Echegaray despite the fact thatthe finality of judgment has already been rende red.RULING:No, the Court was within its authority when it granted the TRO despit e thefinal and executory judgment having been rendered already.1.The Court did n ot lose its jurisdiction when it granted the TRO. In itsdecision, it categorical ly answered the contention of the plaintiff insuch that it is not changing its j udgment. The Court is merelysuspending its execution temporarily.It was emphasiz ed tht the Court, in rendering the judgment lost its jurisdiction to amend, modi fy or alter the same, but it retained itspower to execute and enforce it. It was further stated that the power tocontrol the execution of its decision is an ess ential aspect of jurisdiction. The 1987 Constitution, according to the Court, s trengthened andbroadened the power of the Court in matters like these. It gave t he

Court the power to promulgate rules concerning the protection andenforcement of constitutional rights, i.e. the right to life.On a final note regarding the firs t contention of the respondent, theDOJ acknowledged this Courtâ s jurisdiction when i t filed a Manifestationand Urgent Motion to Compel the trial judge to disclose t he Warrant of Execution containing the date of Echegarayâ s execution to the public. The jurisdiction of the Court, it emphasizes, does not depend on theconvenience of the litigants.2.The respondentâ s contention that the issuance of the TRO encroach eson the power of the executive is also rejected. Section 19 Article VII of the Constitution cannot be interpreted as denying the powers of theCourt to Control the enforcement of their decision after their finality. Itis not a usurpation of the presidential power of reprieve, although ithas he same effect.It must be no ted that the powers of the Executive, the Legislative, andthe Judiciary to save the life of a death convict does not exclude eachother for the simple reason tha t there is no higher right than the rightto life.3.The Court made it a point to clarify the rationale behind the issuance of the TRO. The Court had to decide on the petitionerâ s Very UrgentMotion for the Issuance of a TRO with a mere (5) hours prior to theexecution of Echegaray. They had been placed in a very difficultposi

tion because it was such a short period to ascertain the validityand substance o f the allegation contained in the Very Urgent Motion. They also had no way of ch ecking and verifying with Congress becauseit was in recess at that time. The Cou rt took an extremely cautiousstance by temporarily restraining the execution of the petitionerbecause of fear that any error of the Court in not stopping theexe cution will preclude any further relief for all rights stop at thegraveyard.At t he end of the day, the TRO had achieved its purpose. It crystallized theissue on whether the Congeress is disposed to review capital punishment ornot. Superveni ng events like the (1) pronouncement of then PresidentEstrada that it will veto any law repealing death penalty; (2) the resolkutionof the Congressmen that they are against the repeal of the law; and (3) thatcurrent actions undertaken by Se nators Roco and Pimentel are futile.

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