According to Representative Jesus Suntay House Committee Chair on Human Rights that proposed House Bill No. 7814, which states that a person present in the vicinity of a place where an illegal drug trade is taking place is presumed to have the knowledge and involvement in the drug sale, “unless proven otherwise.”
This is the section in the provision that they are trying to correct because it will entail that you are guilty first and you have to prove your innocence afterward rather than your constitutionally given right that you are innocent until proven guilty.
Rep. Suntay further said that for example a person is inside the bar or in a restaurant, and there is a drug sale that goes on at the other table. Now the police come in, then everyone inside the bar would now be presumed to know about such drug sales.
This is the section in the bill I think will not pass the scrutiny of Congress, how can you pass such a bill if you are being guilty right away without due process of law. They will stomp into the constitutionally protected right of a person and that would be a no-no in creating a law.
But right now it is being scrutinized by members of the house and we expect that this kind of provision will not pass the final reading. They can amend such a section and try to fix the wording of the Bill so that it will pass in Congress.
So what if the Bill passes in Congress with the original context and becomes a law? I doubt it, but if ever the bill becomes law you can question it in the Supreme Court and with the list of court’s decision regarding that subject, the provision in that section will be stricken out.
I don’t think this is a problem even though some congressmen authored such a Bill, I know they will adjust the wordings of it. There’s a lot of lawyer Representatives in Congress and we believe that this kind of Bill in the house will not go through even in the first deliberation
Imagine if that bill becomes a law, there would be a lot of innocent people that would be arrested in a buy-bust operation and their rights would be thrown out the window because they are guilty first and that they have to prove their innocence in court. How does that scenario look like?
So congress should be careful in drafting provisions of the law, we are talking about our fundamental rights here and you can’t be careless about it. But I believe this will be iron out and they can release a much better version of the bill.
For us, as a citizen of this country, we have the civic duty to know and voice out if we ever see any error of a certain bill that is being drafted in Congress and we have to pinpoint the mistakes and see to it that they will correct it.