Dispatch from Crame No. 1040: Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the HB 7814 amending the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act

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If the laws are not just, the rule of law falls.

While the intentions of H.B. No. 7814, amending the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, are generally good, particular provisions in the proposed bill are patently offensive to the Bill of Rights.

The bill creates presumptions which, when uncontroverted, would allow the courts to convict the accused without the prosecution having to present evidence. For example, under Section 3, anyone spotted in the place where the sale, trading, marketing, dispensation, and delivery or distribution of drugs happen is presumed to be involved in these illegal operations “unless proven otherwise.”

Legal presumptions are a means to expedite trials by shifting the burden of proof from complainant to defendant under situations in which the allegations appear to be likely correct. In this situation, the court makes an inference, given a set of facts, which the defendant is given the opportunity to refute by presenting evidence against it.

While it is very useful in civil cases, mandatory presumptions have no place in criminal law. The primordial presumption that governs all others when it comes to criminal law is the presumption of innocence. Anything contrary to that is unjust, invalid and unconstitutional. “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved…” (Art. III, Sec. 14 [2], 1987 Constitution)

If our countrymen see that our Congress passes unjust laws, they will cease to follow and believe in our justice system. Then we would see a rise in criminality, which in turn poses a danger to our country and our democracy.

Sa ilalim ng ating Saligang Batas, trabaho ng prosecution na magpakita ng ebidensya na gumawa ng krimen ang isang akusado. Hindi ang akusado ang kailangan magpatunay na siya ay inosente.

Itong panukalang batas na isinusulong ng Kongreso ay labag sa ating Konstitusyon kaya hindi siya dapat maisabatas. ###

(Access the handwritten version here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatchno1040)

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