A professional basketball coach turned lawmaker wants to ban the practice of “parading” crime suspects before the media, saying it is a violation of human rights.
Pampanga Rep. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao made the proposal in his House Bill 324 which aims to safeguard the presumption of innocence of suspects.
The presentation of suspects in press conferences, Guiao said, is more of a posturing for law enforcement agencies since it sends a signal that the case has been solved when it is really far from over.
“Even if the charges, if at all they are filed, are later dismissed, the zeal of our law enforcers in showing that they are on top of a case could besmirch the name and reputation of a suspect or their family. In so far as the suspect, whose name and face have already appeared in newspapers or television, is concerned, the harm has already been done,” Guiao pointed out.
“While an accused enjoys due process and the constitutional presumption of innocence, a suspect who is presented in a press conference is subjected to unwarranted publicity. Fundamental rights are violated,” Guiao said.
The proposed bill also bans media interviews with the suspect, unless the suspect consents in writing and with the assistance of his or her lawyer.
If Guiao’s measure is enacted, violators will face up to six years in jail or a fine of P20,000.
An offender from the police or a law enforcement agency face from six to eight years of imprisonment.
Guiao clarified that his measure does not apply to suspects who are at large or for whom arrest warrants have been issued.
“Their names and photographs can be provided to the public for dissemination in order to facilitate their arrest,” said Guiao, who coaches Rain or Shine Elastopainters in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
LLANESCA T. PANTI