2 SC justices lead probe into Bar exams blast

09/29/2010 - MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona on Wednesday appointed two associate justices to lead a special fact-finding committee tasked to investigate the Bar exams blast in Manila last Sunday, which left 50 people wounded.

Corona issued Memorandum Order No. 45-2010 "creating a committee to investigate the violence that occurred during the culmination of the 2010 Bar examinations."

SC associate justice Martin Villarama was named chairman of the special committee while associate justice Jose Mendoza was appointed vice-chairman.

Members of the committee are:

Atty. Maria Cristina Layusa, the SC Deputy Clerk of Court and Bar Confidant;
Atty. Constantino Joson, National Bureau of Investigation regional director in Metro Manila;
Dean Perry Pe, chairman of the Philippine Association of Law Schools;
Superintendent Isko Gabriel, head of the Manila Police District's Special Investigation Task Group;
Maj. Eduardo Escala, chief of the SC security division;
Charlotte Silungan, vice-president for National Capital Region of the Association of Law Students of the Philippines.

The committee has been tasked to recommend the filing of criminal and civil charges against those who will be found responsible for the blast.

It will also propose measures to prevent the occurrence of similar violent incidents and recommend an improved security protocol for future Bar examinations.

The committee has until October 15 to wrap up the investigation and submit a report to Corona.

Corona may approve, by himself, the recommendations from the committee. The Chief Justice also has the prerogative to defer to the 15-man SC en banc regarding the recommendations.

In an interview, SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the SC probe will not overlap with the investigations already being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Manila Police District (MPD).

He said the findings of the NBI and MPD will be considered by the panel in coming up with its recommendations.

He added that the inclusion of high-ranking officials of the NBI and MCPD in the panel is “precisely to harmonize” all the findings.

Charges ranging from frustrated homicide to serious physical injuries may be filed against those who will be found responsible for the blast, aside from administrative sanctions, which may include expulsion from their respective law schools and being banned from taking the Bar.

“If those involved are law students, then they will be properly identified. I don’t think they will have anymore chances of taking the Bar exams,” Marquez said (ABS-CBN NEWS)

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