Daring abduction

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

The abduction in broad daylight of labor rights activists Armand Jake Dayoha and his fiancée Dyan Gumanao allegedly by members of the police force once again brought to the fore the issue of individual freedom and security.

The police, however, quickly denied the allegations. But imagine it happened in Pier 6, a public place. Who can afford to do that?

If the incident is true, this is alarming in an environment of a highly-urbanized city. We all know every citizen of this country is entitled to live in a peaceful and secure environment. The principle of taxation emphasizes protection for support, support for protection.

We know that the National Bureau of Investigation, the police, and the Commission on Human Rights are investigating the matter. I want to challenge the authorities to take this issue seriously.

All angles must be scrutinized. Who are those persons of interest? Were they not government forces or hired goons? Or was it a scripted scenario?

This will be unearthed if the authorities, particularly the NBI, will seriously investigate and enhance the available CCTV footage. Whoever is found responsible, they will be brought to court. There will be no sacred cows.

If indeed they are government forces, then this is foul. They don’t have the room to serve as peace officers. They should be reminded that we are in a civilized society.

It is fundamental in law that whenever a person commits a crime, he must first be charged, and he must face the consequences of his actions, should he be found guilty. Such a resort is a mark of a civilized society. Freedom of thought is still constitutionally guaranteed.

Sometimes, some of our authorities may also feel frustrated about going through the hard but legitimate ways, such as bringing to court violators of laws and those they perceive as enemies of the State. Still, there is simply no other way if, indeed, we are in a democratic society.

Gathering evidence and building up a tight case require diligence and commitment, not shortcuts. Crimes have their elements, which is why every lawyer worth his salt sees that any allegation must stand court scrutiny.

Let us remember that membership in a progressive organization is not a crime. Actively advocating for a cause, whether labor rights, women’s rights, or students’ rights, does not automatically make one a criminal. If we argue otherwise, we will be putting countless individuals working for social justice in real danger.

And there are many of them in the academe, churches, slums, and rural areas. We dread to see the day when anyone who works for the underprivileged is labeled as an enemy of the State.

The State has all the resources to run after those seeking to overthrow a legitimate government. However, acts such as abduction, torture, etc., are not what legal means permit.

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