‘Planted’ evidence; ‘poisoned’ tree and fruits

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Thursday, March 27, 2014


ASK a police officer about "planting" evidence. On

little prodding, he'd say it's standard tactic when cops are in a pinch: to get themselves off the hook or nail down a suspect.

Ask a defense lawyer about complaining against "planted" evidence. Off the record, he'd say it's common strategy to soften harsh publicity against the client even if it wouldn't stand in court.

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Lawyers of Benito Tiamzon and his wife raise the issue of "planted" evidence. The Armed Forces in return says AFP has testimony and records, including video of the arrest, that firearms and explosives were indeed seized from the Tiamzon spouses, who head the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA).

Along with "planting" evidence is the "fruits-of-a-poisoned-tree" principle that disallows evidence produced by an illicit act: an illegally obtained or executed warrant.

As plain as basic farming principle? Maybe but many law enforcers confuse tree (originally flawed evidence) with fruits (other evidences to which the initial evidence leads).

Chink in armor

Underlying reason, often lost on police and military, is what the Supreme Court ruled in People vs. Aminnudin and other cases: "Those enforcing the law are not justified in disregarding the rights of the individual in the name of order...Justice Holmes declared, 'I think it is less evil that some criminals escape than the government should play an ignoble part.'"

The same chink in democracy's armor the Tiamzons now exploit: to benefit from rights granted by the state they seek to destroy.

(paseares@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 28, 2014.

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