Randy David et al. ought to sue those who arrested them
HIGH GROUND By William M. Esposo
Inq7.net 2006-05-04
NOW that the Supreme Court has decided that warrant-less arrests made under Presidential Proclamation 1017 were illegal, our colleague Randy David and all the others who were arrested under that proclamation should sue those who commanded the police units that haled them to jail. They’d do well to include the head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in that classic lawsuit.
They may not be able to sue the Commander-in-Chief who was really responsible for PP 1017 -- because of some exemption to lawsuits given to presidents, regardless of whether duly elected or not -- but those who implemented the illegal orders and may be sued should be made to account and pay.

The judgment in Nuremberg, the trial of Nazi war criminals after World War II, set the legal precedent for the accountability of those who claim to be only following orders. Nazis who claimed that they simply followed Hitler’s orders on the Holocaust, the genocide of over six million Jews, were just the same hanged.

These days we have what appears to be a Hitler wannabe who has been issuing similar outrageous and illegal orders. Those who do not have the moral character to refuse to follow those types of orders must be made to share in the accounting.

Ninez Cacho-Olivarez and the Daily Tribune should also file a similar lawsuit and claim damages against those who raided their offices. And maybe, they should also throw a party for the raiders to thank them for the distinction (and added circulation) that act of harassment and suppression did for the paper.

The opposition should also prepare the necessary legislation to put more protection mechanisms against these warrant-less arrests happening again in the future under similar and other possible circumstances. Laws with really sharp teeth are what are needed if we are to ensure that those who are tasked to protect the people do not end up violating the people’s rights themselves.

A law for instance that places the officers responsible for warrant-less arrests under immediate mandatory 1-year suspension will make a reckless cop think three times before committing that mistake. The idea is to put pressure on those who commit the violation themselves -- who execute the arrests -- without intending to be soft on the higher ranking officers who are more accountable for the illegal act.

As per experience, it is hard to pin down those people upstairs in an organization if the people downstairs are not equally pressured to follow the law and proper procedures. Respect for people’s rights and compliance with proper procedures are ensured when everybody in the police force shares that attitude.

Upright officers who command undisciplined cops cannot do it. Then, too, it is hard to be a responsible cop who respects the people’s rights if you serve under corrupt predator-type officers who have no regard for those rights.

Scotland Yard, otherwise known in the UK as the Metropolitan, is just about the finest police force in the world. Through a Scottish friend who served in the force, I met several others during my visits to the UK. Talking with them and listening to them talk among themselves, I can see the culture and values that make them the world’s finest police force.

During one party that my friend, Iain Douglas-Howie, hosted in my honor in 1985, one young officer drank a dram (measurement for a serving of Scotch whisky) too many that loosened his tongue. He mentioned that he poached in a salmon river during a period when fishing there was banned.

Poaching is a minor offense but you won’t believe the reaction that admission drew from the other members of the force who heard it. They were visibly irritated. My friend Iain bemoaned the mere mention of the act, because having heard it placed him on the spot to do something about it.

Now when I asked Iain if poaching was such a major offense in the UK, he told me that if it were any other citizen who admitted to having done it, they might have ignored it and they would likely just lecture the violator. But for an officer of Scotland Yard to have committed the offense, to them that was unthinkable!

To them, it was not an issue of whether the crime is considered minor or major. To them, an officer of the force has no business committing it.

Over here, I doubt if any officer of the Philippine National Police would have given a hoot in hell if another officer fished illegally. Heck, they protect one another when a rubout is passed off as a shootout!

But in this sharp contrast we can see why the men and women of Scotland Yard are respected not only by the British but even by the policemen of other countries. Their attitude and values make them the shining example of what a policeman, a public protector, should be.

You may e-mail William M. Esposo at: w_esposo@yahoo.com.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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