COMMENTARY: We are still a democracy, we are not a fascist state!

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 June) – Really? You forcibly take a senior citizen who was just going about her business and was on her way to fly home and then simply claim mistaken identity?

Is she now supposed to be grateful that she was released?

Let’s not talk about the fact that she is a renowned journalist with a distinguished career in her various advocacies. Let us just consider her as an ordinary Filipino Citizen whose rights you are supposed to protect.

Will you now claim she was forcibly taken for purposes of verification and identification, as is always the excuse?

Shouldn’t the verification and identification be done BEFORE you arrest anyone?

Doesn’t the General Rule in Section 2 of the Bill of Rights under the Constitution say that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be INVIOLABLE.”

Isn’t an arrest by virtue of a lawfully issued Warrant of Arrest the EXCEPTION rather than the RULE?

Isn’t this why the Constitution requires a SPECIFIC DESCRIPTION of the person to be arrested?

Because of these guaranteed rights, aren’t you supposed to make damn sure of the identity of the person you are going to arrest BEFORE you arrest him or her?

You say you have a witness who could identify the actual person to be arrested, so if you were uncertain, why didn’t you bring the witness to see the person to be arrested BEFORE forcibly taking her?

While I fully support the efforts of our men in uniform in enforcing our laws and protecting our citizens, it is acts like this where there is a blatant disregard of basic rights, that reflect badly on ALL law enforcers by reinforcing the perception that they see themselves to be above the law.

It reinforces the fear that ANY LAW ABIDING CITIZEN is in danger of being forcibly taken and subjected to the humiliation of being compelled to prove his own innocence to the very people who are supposed to protect him where his freedom would then be left to their whims.

I certainly hope that there will be no whitewash here and that the higher authorities of the Philippine National Police will see to it that the people responsible will be sanctioned accordingly so that the people’s trust in our law enforcers will not be eroded.

We are STILL a DEMOCRACY, We are NOT a FASCIST STATE!

(Lawyer Caesar Europa teachers remedial law at the Ateneo de Davao University College of Law. He is also a former Governor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Easter Mindanao Region. Atty. Europa posted this piece on his FB page on June 10. MindaNews was granted permission to publish this.)

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