Monday, January 21, 2019

Seares: What the mouth has to do with due process

  • "What due process, ulol. I am not a judge."

  • "Yong due process has nothing to do with my mouth. Walang proceedings dito."

  • -- Separate statements of President Duterte after he publicly shamed illegal drugs suspects

PRESIDENT Duterte may have come up with a novel defense to criticisms that he violated due process when he linked to illegal drugs last July 14 active and retired police officers, then last Aug. 7 mayors, vice mayors and judges.

Initially, his theory was that not being a judge, he cannot violate due process. Then, the theory morphed into due process having nothing to do with his mouth.

In the first, he limits the duty to the judge who hears the complaint. In the second, he claims exemption for what his mouth does, a dissociation from body part, which recalls the movies "Idle Hand" [1999], where a slacker's right hand kills people on its own, and "Teeth" [2007], where a lovely woman's vagina cuts the penis of each unwanted sex predator.

Restricting due process to the judge in court, of course, ignores the role of others in upholding that right. A cop who kills a perp before he is convicted or a prosecutor who charges a suspect without getting his side: they too violate due process. So does any public official who publicly shames a suspect on the basis of raw information and in effect judges him guilty before he is heard.

Duterte said his information "might be true and might not be true." That violates due process, Sen. Franklin Drilon, a lawyer, reminded Duterte, another lawyer.


The mouth can be the only culprit if one has no control over it, like that fictional killer arm or murderous vagina.

The nation must trust and pray that, contrary to what his theory suggests, our president still has full and sound control of his mouth, or any other body part of his that's capable of serious mischief.

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