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