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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Of ‘Torts and Damages’ and Love: ‘Violenti non fit injuria’

While reading Torts and Damages cases for our class tomorrow, a thought came up:
In torts law, one of the principles, and defenses against liability for damages, is “violenti non fit injuria” — to one who is willing, there can be no injury. It means that a person, who voluntarily exposed him/herself to a known risk or danger, must abide by the consequences and cannot be entitled to damages should he/she thereafter suffer injury or damage therefrom (Ilocos Norte Electric Co. v. CAG.R. No. L-53401, November 6, 1989).

Just like LOVE. Yes. Love. With emphasis to “love” in romantic relationships. When we love, we assume the risk of getting hurt or getting rejected. We all know those risks yet we pursue the person or the relationship. Thus, if, at the end of the day, we end up getting hurt in loving someone, we cannot just cry foul and blame that person or God or the concept of love itself. Violenti non fit injuria. To one who is willing to love, he/she must bear the consequences.

So, should we stop loving then? Should I stop going to law school which might not love me back? Definitely not! 😀 The principle only reminds us that we be careful so that we will not end up hurting ourselves too much. Despite the uncertainties and risks in life, just keep loving until we find “the right one”. As the line in a movie goes, “As long as you love, there is hope.” 😀


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Bloggers equally protected as journalists

But outside the definition of who a journalist is, the actual distinction between a regular media outfit and bloggers is the existence of a hierarchy of editorial controls to ensure accuracy in the news and fairness in commentary. This is why traditional journalists themselves sometimes scoff at the notion that “just about anyone can be a journalist”. In fact, Philippine jurisprudence even distinguishes between the amount of latitude given to the media in making factual errors depending on whether it is a “weekly” or a “daily”, with the latter being given wider latitude for mistakes.

But all these miss the point. There is protection accorded by the bill of rights not just to freedom of the press, but to freedom of expression in general. The normative values of these two freedoms are identical: to discern the truth and to facilitate “open, robust and even virulent discussion of pubic issues”. If both freedoms have the same normative content, why should the courts distinguish between an input to the market place of ideas coming from one who earns a living by it and one who does so anyway as a public duty?

Reblogged from HarryRoque.com. Read more at: http://verafiles.org/bloggers-equally-protected-as-journalists/#sthash.puf4oLw8.dpuf