THE DOORS WERE OPENED FOR THEM, especially for her. She loved this kind of attention. After all, she was not Rosanna Marquez-Sy for nothing. Cameras flashed again and again. She smiled at the photographers for their job well done. She was on the papers again for the bad reason but confident that her lawyer will get her away with any crime, as always.
She, surrounded by security personnel, clung to Atty. Salvador “Buddy” Jimenez’s arm as they both walked inside the courtroom. They looked like a celebrity couple straight out from a lifestyle magazine.
As soon as they entered the courtroom, some security personnel stopped the members of the media from coming in. Rosanna heard the doors closed behind her.
Let the battles begin. Rosanna said to herself.
She wore a black dress, a pair of black high-heeled shoes, and her outfit was accentuated with a black hat, pieces of pearl jewelry, and a black velvet purse. It looked glamorous, definitely high fashion. Anyone who doesn’t know about this case would ask, “How could she be the defendant?”
The lawyer beside her was not bad at all, too. Buddy Jimenez, a high school friend, was mestizo. He had more Spanish features: five feet and eight inches tall, black-brown hair, fair skin, pointed nose, broad shoulders, large build. He wore a black suit that matched his client’s wardrobe.
Rosanna Marquez-Sy walked up the aisle, escorted by Buddy, and sat on the other side of the courtroom, opposite Huan and Natalie. She turned to Huan and smiled, flashed her red lips seductively to him.
She saw Huan staring at her. But he immediately turned away and continued reading his notes on the table. Are you avoiding me this time, Huan?
Rosanna took a deep breath and thought of what could have been. She smiled at the thought of it.
You cannot put me to jail, Huan. I’m sure of it. You’ve been saving and picking up the pieces for me that putting me behind bars would be the last thing you’ll ever do.
BUT SOMEONE CAUGHT ROSANNA’S ATTENTION as she looked at the opposite side of the court. There were two gentlemen seated behind Huan.
One was about in his early twenties, Jian Komani, whom she knew was Maui’s boyfriend and the first murder suspect. He also happened to be Huan’s son. So Huan got married after all. I wonder if his wife is here, she thought as she looked around.
The other man was much older by a year or two. Could he be Adi? Rosanna couldn’t help to ask herself. She couldn’t be so sure, but she felt something familiar with him. The two young men looked alike and like Huan, Colonial-looking, common yet with each its own unique charm.
Then she saw that the older one nudged Jian and tilted his head towards her direction. Both guys looked at her. Rosanna tried to smile at them, but she saw Buddy staring at her so she turned her direction in front.
“Who are you looking at?” asked Buddy.
“The young men behind Huan,” Rosanna said. “Who is beside Jian?”
“That’s Huan’s brother, Adi,” replied Buddy. “Adopted by Yoana when Adi became orphaned, they said. Why did you ask?”
“Nothing,” Rosanna said. “We should have investigated Huan, don’t you think so?”
“I already did,” said Buddy. “Let’s get over with your arraignment first. This is much more important than keeping an eye on our enemy’s past.”
Rosanna smiled on how Buddy referred Huan as their enemy. She knew it all along. She could use Buddy’s negative feelings towards Huan to her advantage.
She turned her head again to the other side of the court. She saw Adi staring at her. She smiled at him but Adi just stood there with no reaction.
Hello, Adi. It’s good to see you again. I’m sorry… I’m really sorry…
ANOTHER DOOR OPENED and the Clerk of Court came out and announced, “All rise.”
Everybody in the courtroom stood up. The judge, a middle aged balding man wearing a black toga, entered the courtroom as the Clerk of Court announced, “Judge Loreto Calma presiding.”
Then everyone sat down after the judge had banged his gavel and had taken his seat.
The Honorable Judge Calma cleared his throat and said, “I’m here to conduct an arraignment of an individual named Rosanna Marquez-Sy, Criminal Case No. 128525 Republica de La Isla Colonia, plaintiff, versus Rosanna Marquez-Sy, defendant. We do have attorneys here representing both sides of this matter. Would you mind giving your court appearance here, please?”
Huan stood up and looked behind him. He gave a short nod to the Pangilinans, to his son, and to his younger brother. He nodded at the two gentlemen in his life as if thanking them for all the support and the strength to go on.
“Atty. Huan Aisea Komani, on behalf of the Republica de La Isla Colonia and of the victim, Maui Jie Pangilinan, your Honor. With me, your Honor, is Attorney…”
“Atty. Natalie Noguerra, your Honor, associate lawyer of the late Atty. Renato Fortuna, who was supposed to handle this case,” Natalie butted in as she stood up to be acknowledged.
“Very well,” the judge said.
Huan and Natalie looked at each other but remained standing. Huan felt that she could really get into his nerves but he tried to be calm at that moment.
Then Buddy stood up and looked at Huan as if daring him to a fight and then faced the judge.
“Atty. Salvador Jimenez, representing Ms. Rosanna Marquez-Sy, the defendant, your Honor.”
“No associate lawyer, Atty. Jimenez?” asked the judge.
“None, your Honor,” Buddy replied and looked at Huan. “The defense is confident to win this case for the client.”
Huan tried to smile to his former high school friend but he saw something different from Buddy’s face. Where has friendship gone? In the first place, was Buddy really a friend?
“Very well,” the judge said. “Thank you. Everybody sit down and be quiet.”
Buddy sat down and Rosanna whispered something to him.
“Who is she?” asked Rosanna referring to Natalie.
“She’s the associate lawyer of the late Atty. Fortuna. She was not with him during the ambush, which was weird, by the way. They always go together. According to our source, she was the first one who arrived at the hospital instead of driving to this court.“
“Can we handle her?” Rosanna asked.
“Of course, we can,” Buddy said. “The Secretary of Justice dislikes her and chose Huan instead, which, of course, was a surprise to us, but puts us to a better advantage.”
Don’t worry, Ross. Trust me, we will win this case.”
“I trust you, Buddy,” Rosanna smiled and held Buddy’s hand. “You’ve been Fonsy’s best friend and you’ve proven to be a VERY good lawyer to the family.”
THUS, ARRAIGNMENT BEGAN and the judge addressed the whole court.
“An arraignment is to tell people what charges are, what the possible penalties are, what are the rights, and set the matter forward to a hearing. We will go through the complaint and advise the defendant what the charges are. I already have a preliminary discussion with the attorneys. The attorneys know what exactly the procedures are, and the manner how this is going to be held.”
Everybody was silent and attentive to the judge.
Then the judge continued, “A couple of matters that I need to address in very emotionally charged cases like this. I thank you all for coming and for your concern in this particular case or whichever participant or side that you’re here for. One of the things we try to do is to act in de quorum here in our court room. We try to make sure that everybody here acts in appropriate manner. I always give everybody an opportunity to talk to the court and address it with the court. And I told the attorneys that I’m not allowed to address any comment to the members of the public here today. So I’m just going to ask for your cooperation, please make sure there are no comments, nothing said or anything like that. I do not wish to exclude anybody from the court room. I’d rather have everybody included. And if at some point someone disturbs the court or anything like that, I would have to exclude them in the court room and after that who knows what may happen. So I just cautioned everybody to act with de quorum, this is a court of law and we should act accordingly. Is that understood?”
Everybody nodded in agreement. Some muffled their yeses.
“Also, I would like to acknowledge the presence of two news reporters from the Government TV station and one illustrator. As you can see, there are no cameras inside this court room. Any news report coming about this case will come from them. Therefore, I hold them responsible for any inaccuracies.”
The two reporters seated on the side and the illustrator nodded in agreement with the judge.
The Clerk of Court asked Rosanna and Buddy to step forward before her. She was a small and chubby lady but her eyes were fierce.
“Are you, Rosanna Marquez-Sy?”
“Yes, your Honor.”
“Have you talked to your attorney?”
“Yes, your Honor.”
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say in this court can be used against you.”
Then the Clerk of Court described the case from what she was reading. After reading many pages of the document she held for the last forty minutes, the Clerk of Court faced Rosanna.
“…Therefore, you are charged with first degree murder of Maui Jie Pangilinan and Alfonso Sy, Sr. and it is possibly punishable by two counts of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. How do you plead, Ms. Rosanna Marquez-Sy?”
Rosanna looked at her lawyer, then she faced the Clerk of Court and said, “Not guilty, your Honor.”
Her face was serious. It defined determination that she would win this case no matter what happened.
Rosanna and Buddy went back to their seats.
The judge cleared his throat and said, “The defendant pleaded not guilty. Therefore, the hearing will start on Thursday, and every Monday and Thursday hereafter. If a holiday falls on any of these days, it is assumed that the next hearing will be on the next Monday or Thursday unless I announce otherwise. The court is now dismissed.”
The judge banged his gavel. He stood up and left the court.
Everybody stood up. Rosanna turned and smiled as she passed in front of Huan.
“Hi, Huan. It’s nice meeting you again.”
And she left, following Buddy, leaving Huan and Natalie standing. But she heard Natalie asked Huan.
“What does that mean?”
“Nothing,” Huan replied.
“She knows you,” Rosanna overheard Natalie. “Have you known each other?”
“Would that be YOUR problem if I say yes?”
Rosanna heard all of it and smiled. Until now, she managed to create a stir.