Shaming the crime suspect

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Monday, March 10, 2014


A FILIPINO mayor, identified in an Agence France-Presse (AFP) story as Thony Halili, forced a man to walk at the public market with a sign on his neck: a thief, “huwag ninyong tularan” (don’t imitate), his hands tied behind his back by a knot that dangled a bag of dried fish.

Uploaded by the Tanauan, Batangas mayor on YouTube, a video of the incident showed the thief paraded and taunted as he asked forgiveness from the vendor whose dried fish he stole.

Mayor Thony--with an “h” ala Vhong Navarro--said there was no other way to stop the thief, a recidivist.

Well-intentioned as the mayor might be, he “grossly” violated the suspect’s rights, according to Commission on Human Rights chief Loretta Reyes.

Due process was not accorded him and the forms of punishment were unlawful.

Excess of zeal and impatience with legalities sometimes push public officials beyond the edge of what Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama calls the “rule of law.”

It happened in Davao City in the serial incidents of “salvaging” of crime suspects and for some time in Cebu when the mayor then encouraged similar judicial executions.

The murders by vigilantes in the two cities have still to be solved.

Indignity

Now this in Batangas. Though the suspect wasn’t physically harmed, he was “treated with indignity and psychologically punished.”

And he had no choice, a lot less free than the shaming of electricity thieves caught by a power company.

Resorting to that penalty, which even courts can’t impose, indicates loss of trust in the judicial system.

Which is sadly disappointing as the violators are those tasked to enforce the law.

[paseares@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 10, 2014.

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