The Philippine Bill of Rights: Political and Legal Rights


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Lecture slides for an undergraduate class on Philippine Politics and Governance I taught between 2003 and 2005.

This is the second of two slides dealing with the Bill of Rights enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. In particular, these slides cover the legal and political rights guaranteed by the supreme law of the land.

These slides were prepared using Powerpoint XP.


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  • The remainder shall merely highlight the key concepts that one must understand to make sense of the stipulated rights.
  • “ No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws.” 1.) Due process: that before being subjected to such deprivations, the appropriate (legal/judicial) procedures are undertaken. These procedures must further be fair and reasonable. 2.) Equality under the law: the law is “reason free from passion” (Aristotle). Meaning that the law is objective and indiscriminate; it must apply to all people evenly and without prejudice.
  • “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, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” N.B. Unreasonable searches may only be contested by those whose personal rights were involved. You can’t complain on another’s behalf.
  • “ Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.” First section that outlines the rights of the accused (although this one in particular also deals with the rights of the aggrieved).
  • “All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.”
  • “(1) No person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations. “(2) No involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
  • “(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. “(2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado or other similar forms of detention are prohibited. “(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him. “(4) The law shall 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.”
  • “ All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient securities, 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.” N.B. More on habeas corpus later (Article III, Section 15)
  • “ (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law. “ (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 justifiable.” Due process of law  Arraignments, witnesses, closing arguments, counsel, impartiality, jury of one’s peers, etc. Innocent until proven guilty  More on that in the next slide “ Confront one’s accusers”  The right to know who one’s accusers are, to answer the accusations made, to present a defense vis-à-vis these accusations, to present witnesses and evidence in consonance with one’s plea, etc. Trials in absentia  provided he has been arraigned, duly notified of the trial and has a justifiable reason for absence
  • “No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.” Related to Article III, Section 12
  • “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.” Related to Article III, Section 13
  • “ (1) Excessive fines shall not be imposed, not 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. “ (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.” N.B. Related to Article III, Section 13
  • “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 .” *It is important to stress that Double Jeopardy covers both a single offense and a single act. Note: this presumes a judgment was reached. It does not apply in cases of mistrials. Also: Government may not appeal acquittals, but the accused can appeal convictions
  • “No person shall be imprisoned for debt or nonpayment of a poll tax.” This is somewhat related to Article II, Sections 9-10. Poll Tax: Related to Article III, Section 6 (Freedom of abode) What will you do if a poor person cannot pay the residence tax? Kick him out of the country?! Should not be abused: just because you won’t be imprisoned for it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay it if you can.
  • “No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted.”
  • The Philippine Bill of Rights: Political and Legal Rights

    1. 1. THE BILL OF RIGHTS (Part II: Legal & Political Rights)
    2. 2. The Basic Question <ul><li>What rights are we entitled to if we are subject to legal proceedings? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Article III, Section 1 <ul><li>The right to due process of law </li></ul><ul><li>The right to equality under the law </li></ul>
    5. 5. Article III, Section 2 <ul><li>Protection against unwarranted searches and arrests </li></ul><ul><li>Basis of warrants: probable cause </li></ul><ul><li>Warrants must always be specific </li></ul>
    6. 6. Article III, Section 11 <ul><li>Speaks of the right to have recourse to the judicial system </li></ul><ul><li>Enshrines the right to equality under the law </li></ul>
    7. 7. Article III, Section 16 <ul><li>The right to a speedy trial </li></ul><ul><li>“ Justice delayed is justice denied” </li></ul>
    8. 8. Article III, Section 18 <ul><li>Freedom from political persecution </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom from forced labor unless as punishment arising from a conviction </li></ul>
    9. 9. Article III, Section 12 <ul><li>“ Miranda rights ” </li></ul><ul><li>Permissible use of police power </li></ul><ul><li>Admissible confessions </li></ul><ul><li>The right to redress in the event of a violation of these rights </li></ul>
    10. 10. Article III, Section 13 <ul><li>Right to bail </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extends to all crimes that do not constitute a capital offense or merit life sentences (i.e. 40 years) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bail should always be reasonable </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Article III, Section 14 <ul><li>Right to due process of law in criminal cases </li></ul><ul><li>“ Innocent until proven guilty ” </li></ul><ul><li>The right to confront one’s accusers </li></ul><ul><li>Basis for trials in absentia </li></ul>
    12. 12. Article III, Section 14 <ul><li>Criteria for determining guilt : </li></ul><ul><li>Confession </li></ul><ul><li>Prima facie evidence </li></ul><ul><li>“ Reasonable doubt” </li></ul>
    13. 13. Article III, Section 17 <ul><li>Right against self-incrimination </li></ul><ul><li>Affirms the right of the accused to “ remain silent ” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Taking the fifth ” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Article III, Section 15 <ul><li>Writ of habeas corpus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An order demanding to produce the body of a detained prisoner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Similarly demands that sufficient cause be shown for keeping the individual in custody </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Limitations of the writ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rebellion or invasion </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Article III, Section 19 <ul><li>Right against excessive fines </li></ul><ul><li>Right to reasonable and humane punishment </li></ul>
    16. 16. Article III, Section 21 <ul><li>Principle of Double Jeopardy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A person tried for an offense cannot be tried/punished for that same offense when judgment has been passed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protects against undue persecution under the law </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Article III, Section 20 <ul><li>Freedom from debtor’s prisons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensures one is not punished due to poverty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State power should not be used to coerce payment of debts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Poll Tax </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a fixed, residence tax </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Article III, Section 22 <ul><li>Protection from retroactive laws </li></ul><ul><li>“ Ex post facto ” = “Arising after the fact” </li></ul><ul><li>Bill of Attainder </li></ul><ul><ul><li>legislative act that inflicts punishment without a trial </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. -end-