Press Release
November 6, 2007

Jinggoy: Public display of suspects is a violation of
human rights; calls DILG, PNP, DOJ to issue regulations

Do not ignore inalienable human rights of the accused.

Senate President pro tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada made the appeal to respect the suspect's human rights which are often overlooked by the police' zeal and pressure to solve crimes, by filing a Senate bill prohibiting the presentation to the press or to the public of suspects in criminal investigations before cases are formally filed against them.

Approved by the Senate on third and final reading, the Senate Joint Resolution No. 4 directs the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), all law enforcement agencies and other government agencies tasked to enforce peace and order to issue rules and regulations on presentation of suspects under their custody to the media.

Estrada, who principally authored the resolution, said "while the accused enjoys due process and the constitutional presumption of innocence, the suspect who is presented in a press conference is subjected to unwanted publicity, which leaves a lasting stain on his and his family's identity."

"It is the aim of the resolution to strike a balance between the people's right to information and security and exercise of press freedom, and the legitimate rights of the suspects to remain silent and be afforded services of a competent and independent counsel," Estrada said.

Sen. Estrada's Senate Bill 607 sets limitations on what information officers could disclose to mass media regarding the person indicted. The bill allows officials who have custody of the suspect and knowledge of the arrest to inform the public that suspect has been arrested, the crime for which he/she was arrested, time, date, place, manner and circumstances concerning the arrest.

On the other hand, it is strictly forbidden to reveal to the public the identity and personal circumstances concerning the arrest.

Media interviews are prohibited unless the suspect expresses his consent in writing under the assistance of a counsel. The accused will have the right to be accompanied by a counsel during interviews, except when the former waives this privilege in writing.

Application of the proposed measure excludes suspects who are at large or for whom warrants of arrest have been issued. Their name and photographs can be provided to the public for dissemination to facilitate their arrest.

"We share with the peacekeeping arm of the country the burden of maintaining peace and order and swift resolution of law offenses. But we should ensure that not one constitutionally-guaranteed human right is violated in the process," Estrada said.

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