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Patrick Ramos May 17, 2017

10-1758 Spec Pro Reaction Paper Atty. Francisco


Extrajudicial Killings topic

Extrajudicial killings are without a question rampant within the


Philippines at this day and age. Extrajudicial killing is when a person is
killed without observing due process of the law. This means that he is killed
without any investigation on the matter or the side of the accused ever
being heard. It is enshrined in our constitution in Article III section that life
must always be protected and it cannot be taken away without due
process. The section provides:
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.
Due process of law as the writer has learned in his law classes, is
when an accused is given the right to be heard in a judicial proceeding and
to present evidence of his innocence. This involves filing a case with the
prosecutor and that prosecutor brining a complaint to the courts of the
Philippines. It will speak of admitting into court pieces of evidence from
both parties. It will also involve a trial wherein the facts will be established
and questioned which will ultimately end with a decision of either conviction
or acquittal. It is paramount and basic in the study of law that a principle in
criminal law is always observed. This principle/doctrine is that everyone is
presumed innocent until proven guilty.
These principles which the writer has learned and studied throughout
law school are now being thrown outside the window with the dawn of
extrajudicial killings. In extrajudicial killings, the accused is not given an
opportunity to prove his innocence nor any other opportunity accorded to
him by the Constitution. The accused is simply profiled as a drug-pusher or
user and is immediately killed based on that unfounded speculation. The
dead can no longer defend themselves hence it defeats the purpose of due
process altogether.
It is vital to know the backdrop of this event. The current
administration has noted that majority of the crimes in the country
(homicide, murder, rape) are committed by a person who is under the
influence of drugs. It is undisputed that what the President said is backed
up with data and factual basis. However, it is still not enough reason to
wage an all-out war against drugs in the manner being done today. The
writer does not agree with Extrajudicial killings as it is contrary to due
process and essentially, contrary to the Constitution. As a law student and
aspiring lawyer, the writer feels that the law is already in place and all that
is left is to implement it. He believes that the Dangerous Drug Act already
enacted is sufficient to catch and apprehend these drug-users and pushers.
If there are any inadequacies or lack of strictness, killing people extra
judicially is still not justified.
The writer is not claiming that the Drug problem should not be
addressed, he is merely stating that it can be handled with judicially and
legally. The occurrence of extra judicial killings makes it tantamount to civil
war against these potential substance users.
The writer also takes note of the fact that people can change. He
observes that there are people who had a dark history but eventually fixed
their life up. Extra-judicial killing will not allow such change to occur.
Therefore, as a law student, the writer completely condemns extra-judicial
killing.
Another negative view the writer has on the issue at hand is that it
leaves no room for accountability. The killings are done in the middle of the
night with few or no witnesses at all. All that is seen is a dead body with a
sign stating Wag tularan. This is vague and does not seem to fit into the
judicial system that the Philippines has. There is no justice that can be
done for the victims or their families. There is speculation that the
supposed killers are the police who are under orders from the President.
However, these are merely speculations because until today, no one has
filed a case regarding these extra-judicial killings. Hence, this is a problem
existent due to the nature of the killings. No one knows who did it hence no
one can file a case in the courts. If no one files with the courts, then no
award can be given to the families of the victims. This leaves a gap and
hole in justice which the writer strongly believes in.
Another position that the writer has is that the media is benefitting
most from the numerous incidents. Due to the various number of deaths
due to the war against drugs, the media is now painting a black picture
against the President. This is essentially manipulating the public into
believing that the President authorizes the killings. There is a strong
foundation for this belief as can be seen from the history of the President in
his stint as mayor of Davao City, but nothing has yet to be proven.
However, despite the lack of proof against the President, the media is
already portraying that Duterte is the man behind the killings. This is
essentially public prosecution being done by the media. They manipulate
the Filipino people in their agendas thus dividing the nation. This is a sad
reality that the writer notes which spurred from the issue of extra-judicial
killings.
Another point the writer would like to make is that the issue has
brought about fear in the Filipino people. This is due to the fact that until
this day, no one knowns exactly how these victims were chosen. There is
no available and known system for picking out the drug-users and pushers.
It seems random and in this case, the randomness is frightening. Anybody
could be a victim even though he/she is already a reformed user or worse,
was never a user at all. There are talks that there is surveillance being
conducted by the police which lasts for days and weeks before a killing is
done. Assuming that it is true, that is still leaving much to the discretion to
the police officers to determine whether to commit the act or not. That kind
of discretion must not be left to the Police officers because as the writer
has learned, they must only enforce the law and not interpret it. They
cannot interpret whether a person is a criminal or not unless they catch him
in the act. That kind of interpretation is left to the Courts according to the
Constitution. What the officers can only do would be to investigate potential
criminals but never to strike and kill them.
The next point that the writer wishes to make is that it is unclear
whether or not the police officers are really the culprits behind the act.
There may be some instances wherein police officers admit that they
commited the act, yet there are still numerous occasions that only accuse
the killer to be a police officer. In the Philippine setting, anybody could
simply use a police officer and kill a potential drug-user or pusher and the
public could easily construe this as an act done by a police officer. The
public is close-minded to the possibility that a private citizen could have
dressed up as a police officer and committed the act himself. Again this is
where the role of media comes into play. Media construes these events to
mean that the police officers are committing these crimes under the
direction of the President.
It is vital to note that the Media has used its influence over the Filipino
people to make them think that the President is approving a bloodbath
against drugs. It fails to present the complete excerpts and interviews done
by the President but merely shows the public excerpts wherein the
President will look bad. This is wrong and the writer completely abhors this
kind of behavior from the media because he learned the proper and ideal
role of media in his Media Law class. Media must present to the public
information that is truthful and accurate. However the reality today is that
Media is presenting information that is entertaining and eye-catching at the
expense of truth and accuracy.
Overall, the writer completely is against the extra-judicial killings of
his fellow Filipino citizens. He has given several points that made him firm
with his position against the killings being done in the name of the war
against drugs. However, the writer believes that there is one solution that
could solve the problem of extra-judicial killing. This solution is to bring
back the death penalty and to amend the Dangerous Drug Act to impose
death penalty for anyone caught using and selling drugs.
The writers recommendation of bringing back the death penalty
might be met with criticisms and talks of human rights. But again he goes
back to the Constitutional Provision he cited earlier. No person may be
deprived of life without due process means that death penalty is not
expressly prohibited by the Constitution. There are several reasons why the
writer believes that the death penalty will be a good recommendation to the
problem of Extra-judicial killings.
Firstly, the death penalty will achieve the same goal as the extra-
judicial killings. The goal, as what the writer perceives, of extra-judicial
killings would be to clean the streets of the Philippines of drug-users and
pushers in order to bring down the crime rate in the country. Again, majority
of those who commit crimes are under the influence of drugs. However, the
death penalty will also clean the streets because it would be a strong
detergent against those who would like to use drugs. It would still instill fear
in the hearts and minds of the drug-users because they could always be
found to be guilty and sentenced to death.
Secondly, the death penalty will now have a system that can be
followed by the police. This leaves the discretion to the courts and out of
the hands of the police officers. Police officers must now only apprehend
the accused and bring him to their police stations where criminal
complaints may be properly filed. This is vital because as pointed out
earlier by the writer, discretion must never be left at the hands of the police
officers.
Next point is that bringing back the death penalty will impose a
system of accountability. Now the victims of the accused or convicted will
have recourse because they now know where to go for recompense. Unlike
the extra-judicial killings where the victims are left with no legal remedy, the
victims can now seek the help of the courts to seek redress to their proper
grievances.
The last point is that the death penalty is more in line with the system
of justice and order being studied by the writer. The imposition of the death
penalty will now allow the accused to defend themselves in trial and give
them their day in court. This is essential because that right is enshrined in
our Constitution hence it must be followed and upheld.
In conclusion, the writer strongly disagrees with the killings being
conducted today and believes that the imposition of the death penalty
would produce the same result without the expense of justice and due
process.