Bar ques­tions and is­sues on pol­i­tics

Sun.Star Pampanga - - STORY! -

[] “Dis­tin­guish par­don from amnesty.”

[] “May the doc­trine of com­mand re­spon­si­bil­ity ap­ply to the Pres­i­dent for abuses com­mit­ted by the armed forces (AFP and po­lice), given his unique role as com­man­der-in-chief?”

Ques­tions # IV (b) and # XIII (b) in Nov. 5, 2017 bar ex­am­i­na­tion on po­lit­i­cal law

Ques­tions re­lat­ing to the Tril­lanes amnesty and the Pres­i­dent’s li­a­bil­ity for abuses of the po­lice or mil­i­tary were asked in 2017, not last Sun­day, the first day of the 2018 bar ex­ams.

The ques­tions were not too soon or too late. The Tril­lanes is­sue is still not re­solved. And since 2016 when Pres­i­dent Duterte as­sumed of­fice, the is­sue of ex­cesses in wag­ing the cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs has con­tin­ued to rage.

Can­di­dates for the law pro­fes­sion rou­tinely watch out for the burn­ing po­lit­i­cal is­sues dur­ing their pre-bar re­view. Of­ten, bar ex­am­in­ers and their chair­man pick a ques­tion or two tied to news head­lines.

What dis­turbs ex­am­i­nees

If the ques­tions they ex­pect don’t come out, ex­am­i­nees are only a bit dis­ap­pointed. They are se­ri­ously dis­turbed though when the an­swers they’ve learned are changed when the is­sues are lit­i­gated in court. Or when the pub­lic of­fi­cial be­haves as if the law were dif­fer­ent or could be bent ac­cord­ing to whim or de­sire of pow­ers-that-be.

[] Such as on the rem­edy of quo war­ranto that was used to un­seat then Supreme Court chief jus­tice Ma. Lour­des Sereno. Their law schools taught them she could be re­moved by im­peach­ment, a pre­cept at­tested to by a hun­dred law deans and pro­fes­sors in the coun­try.

[] Such as the pre­cept of amnesty. Amnesty “looks back­ward and oblit­er­ates the of­fense,” as dis­tin­guished from par­don, which merely “re­moves the con­se­quences or ef­fects of the crime.” If Tril­lanes’ crimes were al­ready wiped out, how could they be re­stored by re­vok­ing the amnesty, on the pre­text that his records were miss­ing?

[] Such as the prin­ci­ple of com­mand re­spon­si­bil­ity. Most bar ex­am­i­nees can tell you, with half their mind not work­ing, that a Pres­i­dent is im­mune from suit only dur­ing his term of of­fice and may be held li­able af­ter he steps down for abuses com­mit­ted by po­lice or mil­i­tary be­cause of his “unique po­si­tion as com­man­derin-chief.”

Cocky com­man­ders

The same 2017 bar ques­tion asked for the el­e­ments that must ex­ist for a su­pe­rior or com­man­der to be held li­able un­der com­mand re­spon­si­bil­ity. One cru­cial el­e­ment is that he “must have failed to take nec­es­sary and rea­son­able mea­sures to prevent the crimes or pun­ish the per­pe­tra­tors.”

That wouldn’t be tough for a pros­e­cu­tor to prove, given the record of il­le­gal killings not only of drug sus­pects but also peas­ants and ac­tivists. For now, what is un­set­tling is that the su­pe­ri­ors or com­man­ders be­have as if the prin­ci­ple of com­mand re­spon­si­bil­ity wouldn’t touch them.

Since law en­forcers know the law, their be­ing cocky may be ex­plained only by their con­fi­dence they wouldn’t be pros­e­cuted. A false sense of com­fort be­cause the doc­trine of com­mand re­spon­si­bil­ity re­spects only the term of a sit­ting pres­i­dent. When he ceases

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