The Bill of Rights: The Heart of the Nation

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If Section 2 or the Declaration of Principles and State Policies is the Soul of a Nation – I consider Article 3 or the Bill of Rights – the heart of a nation. It is the part of the constitution which protect every citizen from the abuses of external parties including the government. It is the mantle of protection that every citizen of this country is guaranteed by the constitution to enjoy.

By definition, a bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights of citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement by  the state, public officials and by private citizens.

Below are the highlights of the proposed draft of the Consultative Commission tasked to review the 1987 Constitution.

Firstly, everything under the 1987 Constitution have been carried over by the draft. Nothing has been changed except the ConCom added various rights that fortify the existing rights and further protect the citizens.

Section 1 of the draft is not found in the current constitution but it capsulizes a strong warning for abusers of the Filipino people.

SECTION 1. The rights under this article are demandable against the State and non-state actors, and their enforcement shall be consistent with international standards.

Section 3 clearly states the RIGHT OF EVERY PERSON TO PRIVACY unlike the current constitution. It specifies personal and domestic communications, and protects the owner of the data. Open governance is clearly manifested under the provision stating “a person has the right to inquire from any government office or agency the information or data that has been obtained, stored, or processed about himself, and to demand, that such data and information be corrected or deleted, or in case of a private entity or person, that their use be enjoined.” This provision seals the recognition of the freedom of information.

The rules of lawful surveillance is clearly outlined in the draft something which is missing in the current constitution. Section 5 of the draft is very interesting especially for experts in this field. The novelty of this change is the prohibition against surveillance to include the conduct of unlawful unreasonable surveillance through technological, electronic – an relevant protection given the advanced state of technology we not have.

The provision on Habeas Corpus is the same except it clearly states “lawless violence, qualified by “when the public safety requires it”. A signature jurisprudence of former chief justice Reynato Puno, head of the ConCom is evident in the same section, i.e. Even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, the privilege of the writs of amparo and habeas data, and other protective writs may still be resorted to unless prejudicial to public order.  These writs are crucial to the our legal system and enhances the protection of of citizens against unlawful arrests or detentions.

The ConCom draft institutionalizes the mandate for members of the legal profession to render service when called by the government, i.e. Members of the Philippine Bar may be required by the Supreme Court to provide free assistance to indigents before courts and quasi-judicial bodies, and for other legal services. Again this is a favorable provision especially for our poor countrymen.

The right to bail is upheld and added with the right to summary proceedings for hearing for bail. A landmark addition is under (b)  When an indigent person is charged with an offense that would entitle him to probation and the risk of flight is low, he may be released on recognizance. This spares an poor person from producing bail if the circumstances stated in the provision are present – and allows him to be released on recognizance only.

The ConCom draft clearly states the duty of the Federal Government, the Federated Regions, and their local government units to provide for humane and adequate penal facilities. This is a constitutional guarantee of people in prison to their right to decent living conditions regardless of their legal status.

The proposed draft clearly mandates the right of people unjustly accused to compensation, i.e Persons unjustly and wrongfully accused, convicted, and imprisoned but subsequently acquitted shall be provided compensation by the State as provided by law.

The principle against double jeopardy stands the same, this time in all levels, including offenses against federal and regional law – but the same will not attach when where the offended party is deprived of due process or where there is a finding of mistrial, or when the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.  This guarantees the offended party more possibility for justice to be achieved at the end of the day.

One amazing new feature of the draft is the inclusion of two other rights aside from CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS.

These are SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RIGHTS such as adequate food, universal and comprehensive healthcare, complete and quality education, adequate and decent housing and livelihood and employment as well ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECOLOGICAL RIGHTS which includes the right to:

(a)  A healthful environment and a balanced ecology, clean air, clean water, clean soil, and clean surroundings;

(b)  Be protected from and seek compensation for damage to environment and ecology that is brought about by illegal and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources; and

(c)  Seek immediate relief from the courts and appropriate governmental bodies through the writ of kalikasan and other protective writs against activities that threaten the environment and ecological balance.

The provision even prescribes the principle in construing laws on environment i.e All doubts shall be resolved in favor of the right of the people to a healthful and balanced ecology. 

It is so inspiring to see that this proposed constitution is truly a CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE – PROTECTING THE PEOPLE in all ASPECTS of life..

You may ask any lawyer on the implication of a BILL OF RIGHTS – these is a summary of all rights that every citizen can claim against the STATE.

Hopefully, I am going to be prouder as a FILIPINO in my lifetime!

Here is the matrix. Feel free to share. I would also appreciate more legal enlightenment from any lawyer. The distinctions between the draft and the the current appears in bold letters. I placed in RED letters and provision in the 1987 Constitution which seem to have two counterpart sections in the ConCom Draft. It gives me the sense that the new draft really want to protect the right to privacy of Filipinos.

COMPARATIVE MATRIX
Draft of the Consultative Commission (ConCom) to Review the 1987 Constitution 1987 Constitution
ARTICLE III ARTICLE III
BILL OF RIGHTS BILL OF RIGHTS
SECTION 1. The rights under this article are demandable against the State and non-state actors, and their enforcement shall be consistent with international standards.
A.         CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
SECTION 2. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
SECTION 3. The right of persons to privacy shall be inviolable. Without lawful court order, all interference in personal and domestic relations, correspondence, and data are proscribed. Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.
SECTION 4. Data obtained about a person shall be used and processed only for purposes authorized by law. (2)  Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
A person has the right to inquire from any government office or agency the information or data that has been obtained, stored, or processed about himself, and to demand, that such data and information be corrected or deleted, or in case of a private entity or person, that their use be enjoined.
SECTION 5. (a) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable. No search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
(b)  The prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizure shall extend to the conduct of unlawful unreasonable surveillance through technological, electronic, or any other means. In addition to the requirements for the issuance of a search warrant, a surveillance warrant shall particularly describe:
1)  The purpose of the surveillance and the period within which the surveillance may be conducted;
2)  The target individuals or entities and the type of information sought;
3)  The manner by which the surveillance is to be conducted and the means to be used, which as far as practicable shall be limited to achieve the purpose of the surveillance and to acquire the type of information sought; and
4)  The period within which the applicant may store recorded information, which shall be consistent with the purpose of the surveillance.
(c)   No surveillance warrant shall be granted except upon a showing that there are no other reasonable means of obtaining the information or evidence sought in the application.
(d)   The court shall specify the time for the service of the warrant, which may be after the conduct of the surveillance. Only information necessary to achieve the purpose of the warrant shall be admitted in evidence. All other information acquired shall be destroyed and deemed inadmissible for any purpose in any proceedings.
SECTION 6. The privacy of communication in any form shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law. Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.
Any evidence obtained in violation of Sections 4, 5, and 6 shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. (2)  Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
SECTION 7. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. For this purpose, the local government units shall, among other things, establish appropriate freedom parks for the peaceful assembly of the people. Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
SECTION 8. No law shall be enacted that establishes, favors, or suppresses religion or its rejection, or that prohibits the free exercise and public expression of fundamental religious belief. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights. Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
SECTION 9. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law. Section 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.
SECTION 10. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. Section 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
SECTION 11. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law, shall not be abridged. Section 8. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.
SECTION 12. Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. Section 9. Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
SECTION 14. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion, rebellion, or lawless violence, when the public safety requires it. Even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, the privilege of the writs of amparo and habeas data, and other protective writs may still be resorted to unless prejudicial to public order. Section 15. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.
SECTION 15. Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies, and adequate legal assistance, shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty. Section 11. Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.
Members of the Philippine Bar may be required by the Supreme Court to provide free assistance to indigents before courts and quasi-judicial bodies, and for other legal services.
SECTION 16. (a) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of a competent and independent counsel. Section 12. (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.
(b)  No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited. (2)  No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.
(c)  Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 20 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him. (3)  Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.
(d)   The Congress shall by law provide for penal and civil sanctions for violations of this section as well as compensation to and rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices, and their families. (4)  The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violations of this section as well as compensation to the rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices, and their families.
SECTION 17. (a) All persons accused of any crime shall be entitled to bail or to be released on recognizance. This right shall not be available in cases where the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua or higher, and the evidence of guilt is strong as determined in summary proceedings. Section 13. All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.
(b)  When an indigent person is charged with an offense that would entitle him to probation and the risk of flight is low, he may be released on recognizance.
(c)  The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended.
(d)  Excessive bail shall not be required.
SECTION 18. No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law. Section 14. (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused; Provided, that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable. (2)  In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused: Provided, that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.
SECTION 19. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies. Section 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
SECTION 20. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Section 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
SECTION 21. No person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations. Section 18. (1) No person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations.
No involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. (2)  No involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
SECTION 22. (a) Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua. Section 19. (1) Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.
(b)  The employment of physical, psychological, or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee, or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions, is prohibited. It shall be the duty of the Federal Government, the Federated Regions, and their local government units to provide for humane and adequate penal facilities. (2)  The employment of physical, psychological, or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions shall be dealt with by law.
(c)   Persons unjustly and wrongfully accused, convicted, and imprisoned but subsequently acquitted shall be provided compensation by the State as provided by law.
SECTION 23. No person shall be imprisoned for debt or non-payment of a poll tax. Section 20. No person shall be imprisoned for debt or non-payment of a poll tax.
SECTION 24. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. If an act is punished by a federal law, regional law, or an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act. Provided, however, that double jeopardy shall not attach where the offended party is deprived of due process or where there is a finding of mistrial, or when the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Section 21. 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.
SECTION 25. No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted. Section 22. No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted.
B.        SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RIGHTS
SECTION 26. Every person has the right to:
(a) Adequate food;
(b)  Universal and comprehensive healthcare;
(c)  Complete, quality education;
(d)  Adequate and decent housing; and
(e)  Livelihood and employment opportunities.
SECTION 27. The Federal Republic shall adopt measures to guarantee the progressive realization of these rights.
C.         ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECOLOGICALRIGHTS SECTION 28. Every person in every generation has the right to:
(a)  A healthful environment and a balanced ecology, clean air, clean water, clean soil, and clean surroundings;
(b)  Be protected from and seek compensation for damage to environment and ecology that is brought about by illegal and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources; and
(c)  Seek immediate relief from the courts and appropriate governmental bodies through the writ of kalikasan and other protective writs against activities that threaten the environment and ecological balance.
All doubts shall be resolved in favor of the right of the people to a healthful and balanced ecology.   

 

 

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