Press Release
October 6, 2007


As Congress goes on a break next week, the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights has already heard and acted upon 51 bills or almost one thirds of the bills referred to the committee. Among these is the bill seeking to regulate authorities' presentation of suspects to the media.

Senator Chiz Escudero, committee chairman has already recommended for Senate approval Committee Report No. 2 directing the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, the Department of Interior and Local Government and other related agencies to issue rules and regulations on presentation of suspects under their custody to the media.

In a joint resolution with the Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, Escudero said the propensity of law enforcement officers such as the members of the PNP in presenting to the public through the media crime suspects who are still being investigated subjects these people to unwanted publicity. Escudero said this needs to be regulated because such act defames the person's and his family's name and reputation.

Escudero said that while the committee guarantees the right of the public to be informed and the exercise of press freedom, so shall the committee also guarantee the rights of the suspects.

"We have to acknowledge that the public has the right to be informed with respect to matters of public interest, especially those affecting security of their persons and property. But we also have to guarantee the right of the person under investigation as provided for by the Constitution."

Section 12, Article III of the Constitution says "Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel."

So as not to infringe the above-mentioned fundamental rights of both the suspects vis a vis the right of the people to information and to press freedom, Committee Report No. 4 decrees law enforcement agencies to issue the necessary governing rules and regulations. The report also directs the said agencies to include but not limit to imposable administrative sanction in cases of violations that may arise there from.

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