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ECHEGARAY v. SEC.

OF JUSTICE

January 19, 1999 (G.R. No. 132601)

PARTIES:

Petitioner: LEO ECHEGARAY

Respondents: SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, ET AL

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 court abused its discretion in granting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on

the execution of Echegaray despite the fact that the finality of judgment has already been rendered… that

by granting the TRO, the Honorable Court has in effect granted reprieve which is an executive function.

HELD:

No. Respondents cited sec 19, art VII. The provision is simply the source of power of the President to grant

reprieves, commutations, and pardons and remit fines and forfeitures after conviction by final judgment.

The provision, however, cannot be interpreted as denying the power of courts to control the enforcement

of their decisions after their finality.

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.

For the public respondents therefore 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 three

branches of our government.