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People vs.

Echegaray

Facts: On January 4, 1999, the SC issued a TRO staying the execution of petitioner Leo Echegaray scheduled on that same day.
The public respondent Justice Secretary assailed the issuance of the TRO arguing that the action of the SC not only violated the
rule on finality of judgment but also encroached on the power of the executive to grant reprieve.

Issue: Whether or not the SC, after the decision in the case becomes final and executory, still has jurisdiction over the case

Held: The finality of judgment does not mean that the SC has lost all its powers or the case. By the finality of the judgment, what
the SC loses is its jurisdiction to amend, modify or alter the same. Even after the judgment has become final, the SC retains its
jurisdiction to execute andenforce it.

The power to control the execution of the SCs decision is an essential aspect of its jurisdiction. It cannot be the subject of
substantial subtraction for the Constitution vests the entirety of judicial power in one SC and in such lower courts as may be
established by law. The important part of a litigation, whether civil or criminal, is the process of execution of decisions where
supervening events may change the circumstance of the parties and compel courts to intervene and adjust the rights of the
litigants to prevent unfairness. It is because of these unforeseen, supervening contingencies that courts have been conceded the
inherent and necessary power of control of its processes and orders to make them comform to law and justice.

The Court also rejected public respondents contention that by granting the TRO, the Court has in effect granted reprieve which
is an executive function under Sec. 19, Art. VII of the Constitution. In truth, an accused who has been convicted by final
judgment still possesses collateral rights and these rights can be claimed in the appropriate courts. For instance, a death convict
who becomes insane after his final conviction cannot be executed while in a state of insanity. The suspension of such a death
sentence is indisputably an exercise of judicial power. It is not a usurpation of the presidential power of reprieve though its
effects are the same as the temporary suspension of the execution of the death convict. In the same vein, it cannot be denied that
Congress can at any time amend the Death Penalty Law by reducing the penalty of death to lifeimprisonment. The effect of such
an amendment is like that of commutation of sentence. But the exercise of Congress of its plenary power to amend laws cannot
be considered as a violation of the power of the President to commute final sentences of conviction. The powers of the Executive,
the Legislative and the Judiciary to save the life of a death convict do not exclude each other for the simple reason that there is no
higher right than the right to life. To contend that only the Executive can protect the right to life of an accused after his
final conviction is to violate the principle of co-equal and coordinate powers of the 3 branches of the government.