“Let them prove it. It’s not our obligation to prove the innocence of our client because the Constitution says everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
--Pedro Leslie Salva, lawyer to Peter Lim
CEBU businessman Peter Lim’s defense has finally found the track it should’ve taken when President Duterte publicly shamed a “Peter Lim” in the Visayas.
And that’s where burden of proof lies. As Peter Lim’s lawyer put it: it’s the state’s duty to prove that his client committed the crime alleged.
Why has that constitutional guarantee not been invoked from the beginning?
Apparently because, as it turned out, they were not even sure about the identity of a Peter Lim whom the President shamed twice on national television.
Duterte told Cebu’s Peter Lim in his face he’d finish him off but at the same time told him to go to the NBI to prove he wasn’t the Peter Lim he wanted shot on sight at the Manila tarmac. Then the PNP chief admitted that police didn’t have proof to back up their claim against Cebu’s Peter Lim.
But here comes PDEA, after a silence that spanned many years, saying Cebu’s Peter Lim is the Peter Lim the President was agitated about, the name that, Duterte said, kept cropping up in several lists.
Shouldn’t this mystery be taken to the level where at least the law agencies agree they have (a) evidence of Peter Lim’s identity and (b) evidence of the crime he allegedly committed and then file the complaint before prosecutors? Or decide they have nothing and apologize?
This tossing of the case, from President to NBI to PDEA, strains public credibility. If they can’t even identify the person, how unjust to publicly humiliate a suspect and even threaten to wipe him off the face of the earth.
Burden of proof, of course is still where the Constitution says it is, unless the suspect allows the state and its minions to relocate it.