Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has cautioned Manila Mayor Isko Moreno against the practice of parading suspected criminals to the public for being violative of their constitutional right to presumption of innocence.
De Lima, a former justice secretary and former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said such practice constitutes a clear violation of the constitutional rights of crime suspects and their human rights by subjecting them to unwanted publicity.
"Kahanga-hanga ang ginagawang mga hakbang ni Mayor Isko sa paglinis ng Maynila, kasama na ang pagsugpo ng krimidalidad. Pinapaalala lang natin sa kanya na ang pagparada ng suspect ay labag sa batas sa karapatang pantao," she said.
"Nakita po natin ang pagsisikap ni Mayor Isko na patalikurin ang mga nasabing suspek at maitago ang kanilang mukha. Gayumpaman, naiharap pa rin sila sa mga kawani ng media at mga taong naroon," she added.
De Lima issued the call after Moreno presented to the media some 35 suspected drug offenders caught in different drug operations to underscore his commitment to respect human rights in his anti-criminality campaign.
Moreno justified his action as he maintained that the Memorandum Circular issued by then Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Jesus Verzosa in June 2008 stopping the practice of public presentation of suspects as a "mere guidance" for PNP personnel only.
Manila City Legal Office Chief Emeterio Moreno defended Moreno's move citing the PNP Reorganization Act of 1998 and DILG Reorganization Act of 1990 where the mayors have "operational supervision and control" of PNP units in their areas.
While commending Moreno for his commitment to respect human rights in his anti-crime campaign and for not sanctioning "tokhang-style" extrajudicial killings, De Lima, however, reminded Moreno against other human rights violations such as parading of suspects to media.
The lady Senator from Bicol recalled that during her separate stints as secretary of justice and CHR chairperson, she had issued official advisories and press statements firmly opposing the practice of presentation of suspects as it is a clear violation of their human rights.
During her stint as CHR chairperson in 2008, De Lima continued, she asked the PNP to stop its common practice of presenting suspects to the press which prompted the issuance of the Versoza memorandum circular banning the same.
She also recommended an urgent review of the PNP Manual of Operations to ensure that PNP's policies and practices are "human rights compliant."
As then justice secretary, De Lima also issued a directive to the National Bureau of Investigation to stop the then common practice of presenting crime suspects to the public.
"To give this injunction against public presentation of suspects more teeth and the character of mandatoriness, I'll be filing a bill soon explicitly proscribing such practice," De Lima announced.
Source: Senate of the Philippines