Panelo’s remark on ‘narco list’ shows ‘ignorance‘ of law – Hilbay
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s remark that politicians involved in illegal drugs had “waived” their right to the presumption of innocence is “gross ignorance of the law,” according to former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, an opposition senatorial candidate.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Hilbay said: “He cannot give out exemptions and new interpretations, because the Constitution’s provisions about this are clear. The imposition of justice should be fair, and should respect the process of a democracy.”
Hilbay was reacting a remark that Panelo made in a televised interview that “candidates who were involved in drugs have, to my mind, waived the right to such right of being given the presumption of innocence.”
“Why? Because they know they are involved there, they run for public office and it’ts fair game — you open yourself to criticism as well as exposure of your involvement to anything illegal,” the Palace official added.
Hilbay and Panelo were expressing their views on whether or not the so-called narco list should be released in time for the May 2019 polls.
Hilbay also pointed out that Malacañang had “billions of funds for intel” and said that if these funds would be properly used the government “should have enough evidence to file cases against those on the list.”
“If the administration cannot bring those who are on the list to court, they are nothing but gossipmongers who do nothing but spread unfounded rumors against other people,” he added.
Meanwhile, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano stressed that one’s constitutional presumption of innocence “is never waived by running for public office.”
“The Supreme Court has cited several instances when the presumption can be waived but running for office has never been one of them,” Alejano said in a separate statement.
“It is alarming that the Palace has fabricated a ground to remove that presumption and it is further disturbing that it is being presumptively waived based on narco lists that have proven to be factually wrong, containing dead people and had to be revised time and again for being inaccurate,” he added.
For his part, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno stressed that the solution to the country’s crime problems would not be solved by releasing narco lists but by filing cases and presenting concrete evidence.
“Galit tayo sa droga. At lagi kong sinasabi na dapat pag may sala, may parusa. Pero epektibo ba ang ‘narco list’ ng gobyernong ito? Dati na silang naglabas ng ‘narco list’ na mali-mali naman pala. Marami pa ring drug lord ang nakakalusot habang ang ordinaryong Pilipino ay natatakot, napagkakamalan, napagbibintangan, at napapatay. Hindi ito makatarungan,” he said.
[We’re angry at drugs. And I have been saying anyone who commits a crime should be punished. But is the government’s narco list effective? They had already released a narco list, but it turned out to have mistakes. There are still many drug lords who elude the law while ordinary Filipinos are afraid, wrong accused, and killed. This is not just.]
“Ang pangmatagalang sagot sa krimen at droga ay maayos na sistema ng hustisya. Dapat may ebidensiya. Dapat may kasong isinasampa. Kaya ako tumatakbo: Gagawin nating patas ang batas para wala nang nakakalusot at mananagot ang dapat managot,” he added.
[The long-term solution to crime and illegal drugs is a proper system of justice. There should be evidence. Cases should be filed. That’s why I’m running: I will make laws fair so that nobody gets away and so that does who should be held accountable will be held accountable.]
It was Interior Secretary Eduardo Año who proposed the release of the list of politicians allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade ahead of the May midterm elections to guide voters.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Gen. Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine Nationa Police, backed the proposal. ut the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and some lawmakers opposed the idea.
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