A TRICYCLE driver in Davao overtook another on a bend and ran smack into an oncoming truck, killing him and his passenger. The driver of the truck was jailed and charged with homicide thru reckless imprudence.
A jaywalker who refused to use the pedestrian overpass was fatally hit by a jeepney. The jeepney driver was jailed and charged with homicide thru reckless imprudence.
Many persons who were evidently merely defending themselves got jailed when they either seriously injured or killed their assailants.
These are instances of patent miscarriage of justice. It’s no consolation to the accused if they are assured that they would eventually be cleared by the courts, not while they’re languishing in jail and in need of legal counsel. Even if they do get cleared later on, the criminal charge filed against them will be entered in their police record.
There might be need for legislation which will authorize police not to file charges against persons when it’s evident that they’re not at fault. I had a nephew who collided with a jeep that was overtaking another vehicle on a bend. The driver of the jeep was a minor who didn’t even have a driver’s license. These circumstances didn’t matter to the police more than the fact that the young driver died. My nephew was charged and we had to bail him out. He had to borrow for his legal counsel. These problems need not have happened to him had there been a proper evaluation of the evidence by police authorities.
Perhaps, police authorities don’t believe it’s in their province to determine whether a person is guilty or not. They may believe this properly belongs to the courts. Yet, police have such a power in other places, even in the United States. There, a driver who injures or kills a pedestrian who wasn’t using a nearby crosswalk isn’t charged by the police. The same goes for a person who kills another in self-defense. We can lessen the load of the courts of this practice is followed in the Philippines. Just to make sure that this power isn’t abused, a law can be passed imposing sanctions on policemen who unduly clear a person of any crime.
Come to think of it, even cases of physical injury are often resolved wrongly. When a person suddenly darts into the street and gets sideswiped, he’s entitled to financial assistance by the motorist. It doesn’t matter that he’s at fault. What matters is that he got injured and the person who injured him must pay. I remember a case in Las Vegas where a jaywalker survived a car accident. The car suffered damages and the jaywalker was asked to pay for the damage. Worse, she was even charged with traffic violation. Thankfully, the latter charge was later dropped.
While we are on crime and punishment, there should be more safeguards against the use of minors in crimes. The usual practice is for the minors, who usually have their birth certificates with them when arrested, to be remanded to the Department of Social Welfare and Development that doesn’t have the facilities for a halfway house. The minors usually escape from the DSWD to continue with their involvement in crime.
I still believe that just because an offender is a minor is not enough reason not to mention his name or print his picture or not to jail him. As the saying goes, he who commits adult crime should serve adult time. There are many cases in the US where minors committed horrible crimes and were charged as adults. They’re identified, are jailed and are in handcuffs when presented to the courts.
The United States can do this because they have sufficient facilities strictly for youthful offenders. In the Philippines where budget officials and lawmakers are more interested in getting their share of the pork, not even a centavo has been allocated for the construction and maintenance of holding facilities for young offenders.
Back to tandem votes
The proposal to vote for the president and vice president as a tandem is effective only if the political party system is strengthened. At present, there’s no political party strong enough to field a complete ticket, thus the need to coalesce with others. The problem is that the vice president who may belong to another party and the two parties might go separate ways in the next presidential election.
Incidentally, friend Bert de Guzman of Balita made a correction on my previous column. The party of Vice President Jejomar Binay is United Nationalist Alliance (Una), not United Nationalist Organization (Uno.) Sorry for the slip. I stand corrected.