Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Presumption of regularity in the performance of public duty vs. presumption of innocence.

"x x x.
In affirming the RTC's conviction of the accused, the CA observed that the defense of frame-up put up by the accused was discredited by the absence of proof of "any intent on the paii of the police authorities to falsely impute such crime against the accused, the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty stands."18 Such outright rejection by the lower courts of Andaya's defense of frame-up is not outrightly binding. For sure, the frame-up defense has been commonly used in prosecutions based on buy-bust operations that have led to the an-est of the suspects.19 Its use might be seen as excessive, but the failure of the accused to impute any ill motives to falsely incriminate them should not deter us from scrutinizing the circumstances of the cases brought to us for review. We should remind ourselves that we cannot presume that the accused committed the crimes they have been charged with. The State must fully establish that for us. If the imputation of ill motive to the lawmen is the only means of impeaching them, then that would be the end of our dutiful vigilance to protect our citizenry from false arrests and wrongful incriminations. We are aware that there have been in the past many cases of false arrests and wrongful incriminations, and that should heighten our resolve to strengthen the ramparts of judicial scrutiny.

Nor should we shirk from our responsibility of protecting the liberties of our citizenry just because the lawmen are shielded by the presumption of the regularity of their performance of duty. The presumed regularity is nothing but a purely evidentiary tool intended to avoid the impossible and time-consuming task of establishing every detail of the performance by officials and functionaries of the Government. Conversion by no means defeat the much stronger and much firmer presumption of innocence in favor of every person whose life, property and liberty comes under the risk of forfeiture on the strength of a false accusation of committing some crime.20 The criminal accusation against a person must be substantiated by proof beyond reasonable doubt. The Court should steadfastly safeguard his right to be presumed innocent. Although his innocence could be doubted, for his reputation in his community might not be lily-white or lustrous, he should not fear a conviction for any crime, least of all one as grave as drug pushing, unless the evidence against him was clear, competent and beyond reasonable doubt. Otherwise, the presumption of innocence in his favor would be rendered empty.

x x x."

G.R. No. 183700, October 13, 2014
vs. PABLITO ANDAYA y REANO, Accused-Appellant.