Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 27 August 11-17, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
presentations of suspects lend authority and credibility to the Office of the
President to announce the guilt of people, no matter that they have not been
tried for the crimes they are supposed to have committed.
Carlos H. Conde
Ever since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo decided it would increase her chances of winning the 2004 presidential elections if she started presenting crime suspects to the media, I have been bothered endlessly by it. Here is our President, supposedly the most authoritative figure on the land, acting like a two-bit cop.
media-driven presentations of suspects are damning due process, the bedrock of
our democratic system. These presentations do not solve criminality; if they do,
we would have been crime-free by now because Mrs. Arroyo is certainly not the
first to do this. Honest-to-goodness police work, earnest and airtight
prosecution and an appropriate and swift penalty do.
presentations lend authority and credibility to the Office of the President to
announce the guilt of people, no matter that they have not been tried for the
crimes they are supposed to have committed, no matter that, under our
Constitution, a suspect is supposed to be presumed innocent until a court of law
presentations not only shortcut the whole judicial process; they put tremendous
pressure on the police and the prosecutors to make damn sure that those who are
paraded and humiliated by the President in front of the cameras end up in jail.
what if a suspect the President humiliated turns out to be innocent? This is a
real problem in this country, where many police officers are corrupt, where many
prosecutors can be bought, where many judges can be wined and dined by suspects,
especially the rich ones.
fact, Acsa Ramirez, the Land Bank cashier who was presented by the President to
the media last Friday as a suspect in a scam, is not a suspect in the case, let
alone a criminal. The bank’s employee’s association itself made the
Bank president Gary Teves said that "personally, I think Acsa is innocent.
But we can't just rule out anybody's involvement from the case while it is being
investigated. Everybody is considered suspect here."
Excuse me? The case is still being investigated and nobody is sure who is
involved in the crime or not, so why present all those suspects to the media as
if they are already guilty?
Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the Palace would correct any mistake it would
commit in these presentations. But that is precisely what is wrong with these
publicity stunts: the police, let alone the Palace, are not the final arbiter of
a person’s guilt. It is the courts. That’s why there is such a thing as due
process: the person is charged and tried and, if found guilty, punished. For
Mrs. Arroyo to appropriate for herself the functions of the judiciary is a
travesty not only of the justice system but also of what makes us human. It
defeats the whole purpose of democracy.
Ramirez is traumatized by what happened to her. Who wouldn’t be? She has been
pictured by no less than the President as a criminal. She’s ruined. All
because her President craves pogi points for her election. If I were Ms.
Ramirez, I would sue the living daylights out of President Arroyo and the
authorities who put her through this madness.
This has got to stop. We don’t live in a perfect world, which is why there is no room for shortcuts. What does it profit us as a society if our leaders, in their wicked desire to get elected (or, granting, in their earnest desire to rid our streets of crime), destroy the lives of innocent people and make a mockery of the laws and principles that are supposed to make us decent human beings? Bulatlat.com