The Right Against Double Jeopardy

Section 21 of Article 3, Bill of Rights, of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines states that,

No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.

judge's hammerSimply put, if a person was charged with an offense and the case is terminated without his express consent, whether by conviction or acquittal, that person can never be tried once more for the same offense.

At a surface glance, it can only seem fair that a person should not be punished twice for the same crime. However, a question comes in when the person was acquitted for lack of evidence but, later, some incriminating evidence was found. No matter how strong the evidence may be, it will be rendered insignificant as the suspect holds the right against double jeopardy.

In a perspective, this question closely resembles the question on parole. Like parole, the right against double jeopardy can be questioned for its justifiability. The justifiability of the right against double jeopardy can be questioned simply because, for one, the power of investigating forces can be limited by various circumstances. For example, technology. As in the case of a murder, it used to be that the DNA test was not acceptable and can’t placed as evidence in court or, simply, there used to not be that test. But later developments led to the acceptability of DNA testing and it can be possible that a host of items from a crime scene can be tested which can point to the murderer and, possibly, a person who has been previously acquitted.

Besides changes in technology, a change of people can also matter. Power and influence are two of the biggest things that can steer the way of a court trial. Most of the time, it is just a matter of a bit of cash to turn a would-be trial into a farce. Even if a conviction is supposedly clear, the decision of the judge is still the final word. However, every now and then, very rarely enough, decent people come around to give hope to the family of the victim. In the end, the hope would only be a false one because the suspect has the right against double jeopardy at his defense.

Another question would be on witnesses. These people are a significant part of a court trial. Most of time, witnesses are very hesitant to show up in court for fear of threat to personal security. Sometimes, witnesses can also be paid to simply not show up in court. There are even cases where witnesses are paid to show up in court to give false claims – be they actual bearers of the truth or not. But things can change. That is, in time. And since time can’t keep from moving forward, it might be that it will be too late and the decision can no longer be changed.

Whether it is in the evidence, the witnesses, or the judge and jury, the question against this right is inevitable. However, it is also a given that there is some sound reasoning behind it. But just like every question directed at law or the justice system there is only one certainty: every justice system has its flaws. Humans have not been successful in a creating a perfect system of justice. But as we continue to search for it, we can get desperate. However, as portrayed in Death Note, playing the role of the supreme judge and executing criminals does not make one Justice.

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Education by the Numbers (via Shai Reshef’s Blog)

“Education is a right, not a privilege.”

And I absolutely agree with that statement. The statistics tells us otherwise but there are things we can do to change that.

How many people do you know who are pursuing higher education? Chances are your answer will largely depend on where you live. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 70% of potential students in the U.S. attend a higher education institution, in comparison to only 6% in Sub-Saharan Africa. These numbers are a blatant sign of a failed system. In short, they indicate that your socio-economic status and geographic location determines wheth … Read More

via Shai Reshef’s Blog

Of Vows, Transparency, and Tactics

We did vow transparency.” – Noynoy Aquino, President of the Republic of the Philippines

That was what the president said in response to being questioned about not ordering a media blackout.

I say that the president was well-meaning but I also believe that he is taking the term in a very unrealistic and impractical way. Transparency does not mean giving out information as it happens. Or you may say that that is how I believe it to be so. If it were so, and he would want to keep on his vows, he would have to air everything, every transaction, every meeting, in the government as they happen. And it would just be impossible.

However, I am also not of the opinion that a media blackout would have been helpful. As has been reported, he had access to a TV. If the president had ordered a media blackout, I believe, it would only have infuriated the hostage-taker, Rolando Mendoza, and there may not have been a single survivor – to mean, the hostage-taker could have killed all who were still in the bus but himself.

I am not one who knows a good deal about tactics. Though, I do believe, as many will agree with me, that the police forces that responded to the situation could have done better.

The negotiation failed miserably – that’s a given. But what happened after the negotiations did not have to happen that way.

A very evident mistake would be one on the tear gas. No, I don’t believe that they didn’t have to use it. But I do believe that it was stupid for them not to think of preparing gas masks if they intended to gas the bus. Did they think that they would be immune to its effects while expecting that the hostage-taker would suffer?

While they are saying that only the snipers fired any shots during the incident, I cannot help but think that some of the bullets that hit some of the tourists are from the police force. And even if it’s true that it’s just the snipers, there’s also a chance that those bullets from the snipers hit a victim given that they were shooting while it was still too dark inside the bus.

The media could have also done better. They knew that the hostage-taker had access to the TV, still they gave a real-time coverage of the event complete with descriptive commentaries.

Yes, the police was not able to control them but they should’ve known better and have been more responsible.

Crowd control was very bad. The affair was hardly over and onlookers have already started to swarm the tour bus. And the police officers were not able to stop them.

As I’ve said, I believe that many will agree with me that the police force didn’t respond well. It was not a display of competence. They might have even shown that the criminals can fear them even less.

Yes, they did kill the suspect but, still they were bested.

On a final note, a believe that the Hong Kong government did a rather extreme response by telling its people to “avoid travelling to the Philippines.” We all know that what happened was very bad and we all regret that it happened that way. But unless it was proven that the hostage-taker, Rolando Mendoza, was part of an organized crime group, we can still say that it was an isolated case.

Senior Citizens Act: Fail!

This bill has been in existence for years now. They have even expanded it into a broader and, supposed to be more, beneficial “Expanded Senior Citizens Act”.

However, it is still evident in the society that a lot of establishments and public utility vehicles are not following rules stipulated in this bill. I can site a lot of examples.

The day before yesterday, I was on a jeepney and I heard an old woman complaining about the fare. She was obviously old enough to be a senior citizen and she was telling the collector so. However, instead of answering to her plea, the collector just let the woman’s words fall into deaf ears. Even my mom have a few similar experiences.

In some drugstores here in Tacloban, the situation is as bad. In one, there is a “senior citizen” section. My mom told me that she lined up there but when payment time came, her receipt didn’t reflect the discount she was supposed to get. When she asked why, the pharmacists answered with a, “We are no longer implementing it.” In some cases, senior citizens no longer bother to line up in a senior citizens’ section or show their ID’s because, according to them, they will not be entertained if they do so.

Now, I do know that this bill was the first one that the new Aquino signed. However, I don’t believe that signing the Expanded Senior Citizens should’ve been his top priority. I know it is easier to do, but implementing it should’ve been the one he looked at first.

I know there is a punishment for people, or any concerned party that does not implement the discount. But given that there is almost no monitoring to this, we can never be certain that the seniors are getting the privileges they deserve.

When Drugs Go Digital (via The Miller Times)

If this is really true, this can be more difficult to supress than the physical drugs like coke, meth, E, etc.

When Drugs Go Digital Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all … I read a story on the Huffington Post yesterday about teenagers getting a high off “digital drugs.” They call it i-Dosing. Here’s how it works: i-Dosers lay motionless with headphones on while listening to binaural sound clips from YouTube for 10-minute periods. This equates to a type of sensory deprivation experienced with other drugs like ecstasy or LSD. From Wired.com: “Those who want to get … Read More

via The Miller Times

Diabetes and Heart Disease, World Kidney Day

I got interested in this event because I’ve lost someone very important to me because of diabetes and almost lost another cuz of heart disease. And as it is, kidney failure is a very bad complication of diabetes.

However, instead of thinking the negative, I chose to think the positive and this is one way how I can help people be aware of the health problems associated with it.

What you can do to make a difference!

  1. Get tested: If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of these conditions or kidney disease, you are at risk. See your doctor and get screened. The National Kidney Foundation offers frequent free kidney health screenings across the country.
  • If you are in the US:
  1. Volunteer: The Foundation welcomes volunteers of all ages and interests. Contact your local NKF office to sign up.
  2. Join NKF: Thousands of health care professionals, patients, donors, recipients and their families benefit from the educational information, guidance, support and advocacy opportunities provided by the membership in the National Kidney Foundation and participation in the NKF “People Like Us” Take Action Network.
  3. Support NKF: You can help make a direct or memorial gift, participate in a Kidney Walk or NKF Golf Classic Tournament in your community, donating a vehicle to Kidney Cars, attending a fundraising event, or making the NKF a beneficiary of a planned gift.

And here are some tips to keep both your kidney and heart healthy:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Eat a proper diet.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Have your physician test you for both heart and kidney disease.