Random Thoughts

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The Presumption of Innocence and the Due Process of Law

My theory is this: The reason why the Presumption of Innocence of a person accused of committing a crime is recognized as a fundamental freedom and guaranteed by many States in the world through their constitutions, laws, rules and regulations is that human beings, including myself, have this TENDENCY TO BE IRRATIONAL enough to be biased in throwing their judgments against a person. This is exemplified by the posts and comments of many Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) we have recently observed both online and offline.

Another instance was during our One Billion Rising Cebu 2018 event, last March 8, for the International Women’s Day at Fuente Osmeña Circle, Cebu City. An old man, clad in a long-sleeved polo barong who turned out to be a DDS, entered the Circle and attempted to interrupt the person who was delivering a solidarity message on stage. A colleague, with a smile on his face, calmly told the old man to just respect the opinion of the speaker. Apparently, the old man got annoyed by the speaker’s message which contained criticisms against President Duterte’s and pro-imperialist/pro-oligarchs/anti-poor policies. Our colleague kept on telling him to respect the speaker’s views.

The old man, on the other hand, kept on calling the speaker’s attention, asking aloud, “Kinsa imong kontra? (Who is your enemy?)”. He also kept on telling us statements like: “Pataka lang man na siya (He does not know what he’s talking)”, “I came from Malacanang” as if to scare us. UNTIL he repeatedly uttered, “Unsa man, ipa-TOKHANG ta na siya (What now, shall we have him killed)?” That struck us and prompted our colleague to call for the assistance of our own marshals. Our marshals succeeded in calming him down and the event ended successfully and peacefully.

Imagine that any person could just easily condemn another using the force of the law or the bullet of a gun WITHOUT DUE PROCESS. THIS IS DANGEROUS as it could take one’s life away, actually or constructively, without the benefit of an in-depth investigation and the opportunity for him/her to defend himself/herself. It is for this reason, as well, why many justice systems in the world, except those that adopt the jury system, leave the judgments of conviction or acquittal to persons (judges) who are supposedly learned of the law and with demonstrable capacity to sift through the evidence presented for and against the accused without any taint of partiality as the blindfolded Lady Justice depicts.

Section 1, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution expressly provides that [n]o person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without DUE PROCESS of law. Section 14, Article III of the Constitution likewise provides:

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, and shall enjoy the RIGHT TO BE HEARD by himself and counsel, TO BE INFORMED of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, TO HAVE SPEEDY, IMPARTIAL, and PUBLIC TRIAL, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf.

In the same manner, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to be presumed innocent and the right to due process as follows:

Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

May we IMPREGNATE these FUNDAMENTAL rights in our minds and may we UPHOLD the RULE OF LAW rather than the rule of the mob, DEMOCRACY rather than mobocracy.

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On another note, albeit late, I would like to express my warmest congratulations to our sisters and brothers in GABRIELA CEBU as well as the other convenors and organizers for successfully holding ONE BILLION RISING CEBU 2018 with a timely theme “RISE! RESIST! UNITE!” and in time for the International Women’s Day.

I was a graduating U.P. student when I volunteered to assist GABRIELA CEBU, UP Cebu GAD, and others in organizing the FIRST ever ONE BILLION RISING CEBU which was graced by around 2,000 women, men, youth and children at the Ayala Cebu Terraces last February 14, 2013.

As women hold up half the sky, said Mao Zedong, women hold up half of the struggle towards national liberation and democracy since the Spanish conquest until at present.

Abante, Babae! Palaban, militante!

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Cebu takes part of the annual worldwide event One Billion Rising with this year’s theme, “Rise! Resist! Unite!” One Billion Rising was first launched on February 14, 2013, spearheaded by feminist-activist Eve Ensler.

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Human Rights Month: Inherent Right to Die?

If we have an inherent Right to Life, do we also have an inherent RIGHT TO DIE?

“NO”, says, at least, a European court. The European Court of Human Rights in Pretty v. UK DID NOT allow the petitioner suffering from a motor neuron disease to commit suicide with the help of her husband because she did not have the right to die and that there is NO such thing as Right to Die which can be derived from the Right to Life. The Court explained:

The consistent emphasis in all the cases before the Court has been the obligation of the State to protect life. The Court is not persuaded that “the right to life” guaranteed in Article 2 can be interpreted as involving a negative aspect. While, for example in the context of Article 11 of the Convention, the freedom of association has been found to involve not only a right to join an association but a corresponding right not to be forced to join an association, the Court observes that the notion of a freedom implies some measure of choice as to its exercise (see Young, James and Webster v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 13 August 1981, Series A no. 44, pp. 21-22, § 52, and Sigurđur A. Sigurjónsson v. Iceland, judgment of 30 June 1993, Series A no. 264, pp. 15-16, § 35). Article 2 of the Convention (European Convention on Human Rights) is phrased in different terms. It is unconcerned with issues to do with the quality of living or what a person chooses to do with his or her life. To the extent that these aspects are recognised as so fundamental to the human condition that they require protection from State interference, they may be reflected in the rights guaranteed by other Articles of the Convention, or in other international human rights instruments. Article 2 cannot, without a distortion of language, be interpreted as conferring the diametrically opposite right, namely a right to die; nor can it create a right to self-determination in the sense of conferring on an individual the entitlement to choose death rather than life.

 


December is considered internationally as Human Rights Month. Specifically, December 10 is internationally known as Human Rights Day since it was on that day in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was proclaimed.

If I have time, I may post Human Rights Law trivia every Wednesday of December this year as we are currently taking up Human Rights Law this semester. Know your rights! 😀

Source: Hunger Response

Source: Hunger Response


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Capitalism: Profit Over Humanity (On the Recent Demolition in Agham Road)

Umiiyak si Nanay habang dine-demolish ang kanilang mga kabahayan sa may Agham Road, Sitio San Roque, Quezon City. Photo credits to Reuters/Erik de Castro

This is what happens under a system known as Capitalism that prioritizes and cherishes profit (of the few elites) over humanity.

Two days ago, the residents of an urban poor community in North Triangle faced demolition of their homes “to give way to the 11.3-meter road widening project along Agham Road in Quezon City.” However, “the residents believe that the demolition is meant to give way for the Quezon City Central Business District, a 256-hectare project” of the Ayalas. “…similar reason was given to former residents along EDSA but instead of road-widening, a high rise condominium is now being constructed.”

“No demolition order. No dialogues. Just pure brazen violence. And the police even nabbed the already harassed residents. This is impunity, this is injustice in its rawest and steeliest form,” said Terry Ridon, KABATAAN Partylist representative and a lawyer. – Read more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/01/27/north-triangle-residents-lose-homes-to-demolition-decry-overkill/#sthash.07yes4lm.dpuf

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Everytime news articles about demolition of informal settlers are being posted online, I always see comments from netizens condemning the poor settlers saying, “they deserve it”, “they are poor because they are lazy”, “they are hindrances to our country’s development”, etc.

Sadly, we usually condemn the poor, criticize them, belittle them and demolish their homes that we tend to forget the fact that our food, our clothes, our gadgets, our school and office supplies are produced by them, by their calloused hands. These things that we enjoy are the fruits of their sufferings – being exploited, abused, underpaid, and harassed.

We are now very blinded by the developments that we enjoy that we do not see the plight of the majority of the people in our society. Remember: Development is made for Humanity, not Humanity for Development of the few.

Doon po sa amin,
Bayan ng San Roque
May nagkatuwaang
Apat na pulubi –

Nagsayaw ang pilay,
Nanood ang bulag,
Kumanta ang pipi,
Nakinig ang bingi.
– Philippine Folk Song

PS: Hindi lang si Vhong ang nangangailangan ng hustisya. HUSTISYA para sa mga urban poor ng Sitio San Roque! HUSTISYA para sa masang-api!


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Access to electricity is a human right

While I do not agree with Atty. Roque, somehow, on granting PNoy emergency powers over the Power Rate Hike Issue even if it is temporary, I am interested in his point, emphasizing that Access to Electricity is a HUMAN RIGHT. Looking forward to the recognition of such in our jurisdiction . 🙂


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On Capitalism, Sex/Human Trafficking and Feminism

I sat in an Understanding Gender class today and it happened that (on their last day of class) they were to watch a 1-hour documentary on Sex Trafficking in Nepal. Though I am not officially enrolled in their class, I felt the obligation to share my insight:

For me, the highlight of the film was when a girl victim of Sex Trafficking said that “Money to them is everything“. The girl, herself, as a victim was able to point out the root of the problem — the GLOBAL CAPITALIST SYSTEM — because she did experienced it (the reason why there’s a need for us to immerse ourselves with the masses to deeply know and understand their plight).

There is this craving for money. For the oppressors, they crave for money because money gives them the power to get what they want. For the oppressed (e.g. sex slaves, prostitutes, etc), they crave for money in

order to survive. Even if the system offers them a wide range of jobs, most of these are not attainable by the oppressed because the structure of the system is designed by the elites to keep the oppressed at the low-level of social pyramid and divert them from attaining class consciousness in order to protect their (elites’) interests and status in the society.

Why is this so? Because the system demands wealth/money for both power and survival. In turn, it promotes individualism; though theoretically, it gives emphasis to the protection of individual rights but in reality, it makes the people care only about themselves, their rights to the extent of harming other people, directly or indirectly. This Global Capitalist System made us blind of the truth, justice, morality and being humane.

That is why the issues of women and children should not be isolated from other social issues because all of them are the downside effects of the capitalist system. From what I learned from this class last semester, the struggle for liberating women should be in concurrence with the struggle for liberating humanity. Liberating from what? Liberating ourselves from the chains of the unequal social structure, from the social norms dictated by the ruling class, etc.

Hence, the only way to stop these social problems is to change the system. If compared to a computer system, there’s a need to reformat the system because the virus has already spread and has caused great damage. Rescuing the victims of sex slave, human trafficking, abuse, etc is not enough. True, they were rescued but how about other people? Since the virus has spread, it may also affect others. These things will also happen to me, to you and to all other people. Just like weeds, the only way to get rid of the weeds is to uproot them; otherwise, they will continue to grow and spread.

It may sound idealistic but remember, the ancient slave-driven societies vanished only when the societal system was finally changed, when the societies were finally revolutionized. There is indeed a need to change the system, from a system that begot individualism to a system that really caters the needs of the people and encourages them to respect one another, care for and love one another and serve one another.