Let me start by quoting the human rights lawyer who wrote the article in the popular broadsheet, the Philippine Daily Inquirer which inspired this post and says,
A bullet without a gun cannot really harm anyone.
Apparently getting impatient with the slow progress in terms of putting an end to the ‘tanim-bala’ extortion scam in his mother country, a Fil-Am lawyer shares his thoughts on how the government can put an end to the modus operandus of a few bad eggs in Manila’s premiere gateway – the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Simple yet Effective solution in stopping ‘tanim-bala’ scam
Atty. Ted Laguatan, a human rights lawyer based in the San Francisco Bay Area suggested that President Aquino or even Secretary of Justice Alfredo Caguioa to issue directives to the Fiscals or airport security personnel that finding ten or fewer bullets in passengers’ luggage will no longer be subject to prosecution. Instead, just confiscate the bullets.
In light of this, the directive from the President or to the Secretary of Justice is anchored on the principle of ‘Procedural Discretion’ which Atty. Lagutan says is not only effective, produce instant results, cost nothing to the government and importantly, restore the good image of the country tarnished by the actions of a few rotten eggs in our airport.
According to Atty. Lagutan, ‘Procedural Discretion’ is widely practiced in the US. Basically, this is a broad prosecutorial discretionary power given to government prosecutors to decide whether or not to press charges or to lessen the charges that are filed.
Unfortunately, Atty. Lagutan said this so-called ‘Procedural Discretion’ power of the Philippine government prosecutors and immigration deputies are under utilized or not utilized at all.
However, a commenter named ‘Ryan’ who is apparently a lawyer disagrees with the suggestion of the Fil-Am lawyer to apply the principle of ‘Procedural Discretion’ in the country since it is not practiced in the country’s legal system. Check out below what he has to say about this.
The principle of legality is being practiced here in the Philippines. Under the principle of legality, the prosecutor has NO discretion to refrain from prosecuting any violation of the law (otherwise, prosecutors can be sued for misconduct, or even obstruction of justice). the only way for the prosecutor to dismiss a case is by conducting an inquest or a preliminary investigation, IN WHICH CASE, the dismissal would be founded on LACK OF PROBABLE CAUSE — an evidentiary, not a discretionary standard.
Although, there is a ray of light when it comes to the adaptation of the principle of ‘Procedural Discretion’ and this is what he has to say,
FYI, there have already been official moves to adopt a more robust system of prosecutorial discretion here. one such move is the ongoing revision of the criminal procedure rules that will, among others, increase the standard of evidence needed to indict a person (because the current one is low, leading to many indictments but few convictions. and the reason for this is that convictions are based on the much stringent “beyond reasonable doubt” quantum).
Meanwhile, PAO Chief Persida Acosta has successfully argued the dismissal of cases against five individuals in the Fiscal’s Office allegedly in possession of bullets in their bags discovered during the airport security check.
The PAO Chief makes use of the legal argument known as ‘animus possidendi’ which means no intention to possess to argue the cases of unlucky individuals found in possession of live and non-live bullets in their bag or luggage. Correct me on this since I am not a lawyer.
What is your opinion about this post?
Credits to Atty. Ted Laguatan & Philippine Daily Inquirer. Please check out the original post here.