[Left photo shows Pres. Rody Duterte’s image juxtaposed with the image of retired Gen. Marcelo Garbo whom Pres. Rody revealed as a drug-lord protector. Right photo is that of my kumpadre and UP Law 80 classmate, Atty. Rolly Quimbo (“Rolly”), who got honed by the Late Atty. Dakila Castro (“Atty. Castro”) into becoming one of the best criminal lawyers of our country today. It was not I who labeled Rolly as “one of the best criminal lawyers of our country” but my other kumpadre, Atty. Ramon Maronilla (incumbent UPAA Prexy) who with Rolly both served under the tutelage of Atty. Castro. The legal aspects of the views expressed in this BLOG were culled predominantly from my kumpadre Rolly’s expertise in criminal law, following my discussion with him on this subject of “DUE PROCESS” and “PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE”.]
If we are to consider our nation as one big family, President Rody Duterte (“Pres. Rody”) is our mystical and paternal and caring father. And as a father to his children, if we are to accord Pres. Rody our unflagging respect, he also ought to feel compelled to tell all of us the truth about the most crucial problems of the nation. And the drug menace in our country has now grown into a monstrosity.
Indeed, Pres. Rody’s emergence as the nation’s leader has become mystical. Truly, while not as yet ascended unto the seat of power, his promised change particularly the eradication of the drug menace started to unfold in awe with no let up. Even typhoon BUTCHOY (international name- NEPARTAK) which wrought havoc in Taiwan and China wondrously just skimmed through Luzon thereby bringing not much damage to the nation.
Thus, saying that he was compelled with a sense of duty, Pres. Rody revealed that certain PNP generals are drug lords’ coddlers. Thereupon, a slew of critics censured Pres. Rody outright for allegedly violating the cops’ constitutional presumption of innocence and the right to due process. Did Pres. Rody really commit the violation?
The concepts of presumption of innocence and due process are provided under Article III (The Bill of Rights) of the Philippine Constitution, in Sections 1 and 14, which state:
“Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
“Section 14. (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.
“(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, xxx “
It is clear that due process must be observed only when a person is to be deprived of life, liberty or property or sought to be held liable for a criminal offense.
On the other hand, Section 5, Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies) of the Constitution provides that: “The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.”
Deprivation or, on a lesser degree, curtailment of a person’s life, liberty or property can be done through three (3) types of proceedings, namely, administrative, civil and criminal, after which a decision is rendered depriving a person of his life (death penalty), or liberty (e.g. imprisonment) or property (e.g. fines).
Pres. Rody’s announcements do not fall under any of the three (3) proceedings. This is so as no case has as yet been filed. Hence, the due process clause does not apply. Once a case is filed, for which he has ordered an investigation preparatory to the filing of cases, if warranted, then the due process clause sets in.
Upon the lodging of a complaint, the complainant, in this case of the drug-lord-coddling cops, which is the government through any of its agencies, has the burden of proving the charges. The quantum of evidence required varies depending on the proceedings: in criminal cases, proof beyond reasonable doubt; in civil cases, the lesser preponderance of evidence; and, in administrative cases, substantial evidence, which is supposed to be lesser than the preponderance of evidence rule.
A law school dean opined that it was reckless on Pres. Rody’s part to announce the involvement of the generals in the games of the drug lords before cases were filed against them. It was further opined that in such a case, in filing first the cases, the generals could have proven their innocence.
It ought to be understood that before cases could be filed against the cops there would have to be an investigation first. And before there can be an investigation, there must first be the filing of the complaint. Ordinarily, a complaint is filed in writing. But, then there is no rule or jurisprudence banning Pres. Rody or any person for that matter, from airing his complaint orally or publicly preparatory to the filing of the written complaint. This is what Pres. Rody did. Pres. Rody aired his charges in public and directed the proper agencies, e.g. NAPOLOCOM and DOJ, to conduct the investigations preparatory to the filing of the formal written complaint.
As Pres. Rody himself repeatedly kept on saying, that he is a lawyer and a long time prosecutor. Hence, he knows the requirement of due process and the quantum of proof needed for conviction. And, it would not be presumptuous to state that he is aware that a lot of the information he has, upon which he charged the generals may not be allowed in evidence in a formal trial. One type of evidence may be hearsay, that is usap-usapan lang sa mga pulis (i.e. grapevine within the police circles), or plain chismis (i.e. gossip). But, where there is smoke, there is fire. So that if the reputation as drug coddlers are widely known among a lot of people, especially the members of the PNP who supplied the information to Pres. Rody, then it can only be true. To know one thing as a fact is one thing, to prove it in court as a fact is another thing.
Reportedly, one source of information for Pres. Rody was the U.S. government’s intelligence service. If true, those US personnel may not be expected to testify here.
Whatever raw information about the generals in the beginning could have been verified by tapping their telephone communications. But then, this is against the law even as it is one sure way of verification. Further, it is also inadmissible in evidence. If Pres. Rody were to divulge this just to satisfy the fault finders, then the wire tappers face criminal prosecution and, with them, Pres. Rody risks being impeached for gross violation of the constitutional proscription on privacy of communication.
If Pres. Rody were to wait until charges have been filed, for which no charges might be filed after an investigation precisely because of the due process clause and the rules on admissibility of evidence, then the People of the Philippines might not have known about the reported involvement of the generals. This is considering that the war against drugs is at the forefront of Pres. Rody’s political campaign and his administration. More so, with the involvement of public officers in violation of the principle that public office is a public trust, and the aforesaid constitutional policy on peace and order, this circumstance has enhanced the reality that public interests far outweigh whatever arguable damage may have been caused to the generals with Pres. Rody’s pronouncements.
Significantly, the generals have not been reported as complaining about the denial of due process. Neither did they complain about what Pres. Rody did. Rather, their complaint was that he may have just been fed with the wrong information. Moreover, they griped that it is case of trial by publicity. Anent the concept of trial by publicity, a quick check in our statute books does not show any reference to this oft-repeated supposed wrongdoing of “trial by publicity”. Indeed, there is no such thing in our statute books defining such a supposed offense of “trial by publicity”.
On another front, newly elected Senator Leila de Lima is proposing a senate investigation on the spate of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug personalities.
Huwag naman sana (i.e. please, not this time), as this would just be a waste of time. Who will the senate summon for investigation? The police operatives? Considering that there have been numerous killings already reported and all of these are apparently separate from each other as they were committed by different police officers at different places, then the Senate would have to summon each of them. And, if the Senate finds that some of these killings were indeed not justified, the most that it can do is recommend the filing of criminal cases.
Once the cases are filed, the accused-policemen will also enjoy the same presumption and the right to due process being invoked by Pres. Rody’s detractors. More than these, the police officers enjoy the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties, which, along with the absence of witnesses and the requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt, would result in the probability of their acquittal, which same reason might exonerate the drug-lord-coddling generals.
And most importantly, with Pres. Rody’s revelation, we have been apprised as though forewarned by a caring father, by the dangers that have lurked among us. With this revelation, and the foisting to us of this reality, we must now join in this campaign to apply moral suasion among our kith and kin who have been lured into this menace, to shake off their addiction and that they must now truly reform.