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People of the Philippines,

- versus - Criminal Case No. _______________
FOR: Violation of RA 9165

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x


Regional Trial Courts has exclusive original jurisdiction in all criminal cases not within
the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal or body, except those now falling under
the exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan which shall hereafter be
exclusively taken cognizance of by the latter. RTC Criminal Courts typically try cases of
serious crimes like murder and robbery, as opposed to petty crimes, which reduce the
burden of court cases.
It was Wednesday; I opted to have my observation in the sala of Judge Rowena
Adlawan who serves as acting presiding judge of RTC Branch 13. There were policemen
and men seated at the bench outside the courtroom. I asked a man standing at the
door if I could make a court observation, and he introduced himself to be the sheriff
and told me I can freely observed the ongoing hearing but make sure to turn off my cell
phone so as not to distract the ongoing proceedings.
I entered the room and saw people inside with sullen and stern faces. The atmosphere
inside the courtroom setting was engulfed with serious air. The case in progress that
time was People vs. Capuno, a drug related case. In the witness stand is a police officer
who introduced himself to be Johnny Manatad, he is a Rifle Man Investigator. The state
prosecutor was doing his direct examination. The accused was named as Abu Bakr Klaw
who was seated in a nearby bench from where I am sitting. It was a case of a buy bust
operation. That on or about the 4th day of November 2013 at 6:40 in the evening,
nearby police station, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused was endorsed to him.
The questions that were asked posed a tainted doubt on the part of the police officer
being interrogated at the time. There seems to be discrepancies with the way he
answered the questions propounded that irked the ears of the judge. The witness told
before the court that he had not been part of the prior planning of the operation. There
were just documents that he prepared necessary to carry out the operation. He further
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added that the reason that he was not included is in order that pertinent and sensitive
information will not be divulged for security purposes. The state prosecutor let the
witness identified a document which is called as Spot Report purportedly made by him.
Accordingly, the word used in the report should have been sold and delivered and not
confiscated from the accused under his control and possession.
Judge Adlwan gave the witness a chance to rectify the discrepancies as maybe the
report he wrote was not the one he intends to mean but when asked the witness to
define the meaning of confiscated, the meaning he gave is the same with the one
reflected on his report and the judge loudly said It seems from the wording you gave,
it is not the accused who is the culprit. She added, I believe you are a four year
graduate and you are an intelligent man but you have admitted in this court your
stupidity. The court cannot give other interpretation except the ones you gave us loud
and clear. The interrogation proceeded with the prosecutor asking him to identify some
pictures and name the people in there. The witness then was asked to identify the
accused from the audience and was able to point him with certainty.

The cross examination was set to September 3, 2014, same venue and time. The
presiding judge ordered for Sub Poena Duces Tecum and Ad Testificandum on some
pertinent material witness for testimony and object evidence to be brought in the court
such as the cell phone and the play money.
I found the trial proceedings to be quite simple to understand, possibly attributable to
the fact that it was a drug related case, and hence issues had to be dealt with in such a
fashion so as to sufficiently facilitate the observers understanding of them with a court
interpreter to make things easy to be understood in lay mans term. To my mind also,
offenders in Philippine jurisdiction seems to be given the benefit of the doubt and
presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

In conclusion, the Regional Trial Court is evidently not only historically but also a
contemporarily important court, which I found to be adequately accessible for members
of the general public. The people whom I encountered that worked in the building were
approachable and very forthcoming with information. The actual viewing facilities
themselves were not particularly comfortable; however, I do not suppose that they are
designed for their comfort, but rather for their functionality. I got the feel of how to be
a lawyer. It appears to be quite a tough job meant for strong and intelligent beings.

Following this initial visit to the Regional Trial Court I would almost certainly feel
confident in either returning one day or when visiting other courts to view proceedings.

Prepared by:
Jenifer M. Paglinawan