Seares: Shaming in public: when it’s generals, not plain citizens

NO furor over the shaming of suspected drug dealers who were paraded on streets with placard hung from the neck, saying "Im a drug pusher, don't follow me." The "walk of shame" in Tanauan, Batangas got some foreign press but the bizarre twist to that town's Flores de Mayo didn't get censure in this country.

The shaming isn't among the Penal Code penalties and may even fall under "cruel and unusual" punishment.

How effective has that been? Or this new method of President Duterte who last June 6 publicly named five active and retired police generals as protectors of drug dealers: will it work?

The generals aren't inclined to admit wrongdoing. One, Cebuano retired general, now Daanbantayan mayor, says he'll submit to whatever tests and checks, in addition to the investigation earlier done by the NBI on his family's wealth.

Judicial procedure is turned upside down: it's now the generals' duty to prove innocence, not the task of state to prove guilt; smear, ruin them and their families, investigate later. Evidence against them is "classified": their names are not.

Defenders of the move say the generals have the advantage of concealing their crime, their influence and wealth have made evidence-building tough, and the noble end calls for unorthodox means.

Some even gripe that while drug dealers are gunned down, the generals are merely put to shame in the media. Wider in range of embarrassment than Tanauan's "walk of shame" but still a lot better than being salvaged in a bogus case of unlawful aggression.

Conundrum

One thing that must be puzzling: Had the generals quietly left the service or owned up the crime, would they have been spared humiliation and given regular due process?

The methods don't just create what my law school professor called a legal conundrum, they also raise what a priest called a moral dilemma. What if later evidence wouldn't stand in court?

(paseares@gmail.com)

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