Publication of crime suspects’ pictures on social media may cost legal trouble: Here’s why

Publication of crime suspects’ pictures on social media may cost legal trouble: Here’s why

May 8, 2021 1 By Antonio Manaytay
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IPIL – Hours after the botched robbery in Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay, some netizens posted on social media the alleged suspects. This practice has become common among netizens without knowing it may cost them legal trouble.

The police have arrested the three suspects after a hot pursuit operation hours after the botched robbery happened in Barangay Mati, Titay on May 5.

The incident

Col. Albert Larubis, Zamboanga Sibugay police director, identified the suspects as Felix Salazar, 40; Jovanie Salazar, 37; and Joven Ocmer, 30, a soldier.

The victim, Dande Calago, a businessman, drove his pick-up type vehicle together with the suspects, Ocmer and Felix.

Calago told police investigators he was supposed to inspect a parcel of land offered to him by Jovanie.

Upon arriving at some portion of the village, the suspects declared the heist at gunpoint. The suspects tied Calago’s hands with masking tape.

Calago resisted while on the wheel. He stepped on the accelerator causing the vehicle to fell on its right side beside the road.

One suspect allegedly shot Calago, who managed to get out from the vehicle and escaped, but missed.

The suspects carted away the cash and other valuables the victim had left behind in his vehicle.

Investigators said the suspects fled to nearby bushes where they allegedly called Jovanie to pick them up.

Responding policemen arrested Felix at past 5 p.m. in Barangay Mati. An hour later, the police also arrested Ocmer in Ipil town.

Pictures in social media

After the arrest, several netizens posted in Facebook the pictures of the suspects. One post said those in the pictures are the robbers.

The practice of posting the pictures of the suspects on social media has become common among netizens.

But some netizens warned of the danger of posting the pictures of the suspects. The warning has elicited reactions, pros and cons.

Fair trial

The 1987 Philippine Constitution guarantees a fair trial for every accused person. It explicitly states in Article III, Section 1 that  “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.”

The framers of the 1987 Constitution crafted the Bill of Rights to expand the fair trial rights of the suspects.

Legal experts believe posting the pictures of the suspects in social media before his appearance in a court could render the trial unfair. The reckless publication of the pictures could defeat the end of justice.

Vigilantism

The practice of posting the pictures of the suspects upon their arrest may encourage vigilantism.

In cases where the court may find the suspects innocent, the publication of their pictures had already depicted them as criminals.

Some rights advocate assert that everyone has the right to a good name or reputation, including that of the suspects of a crime.

Rights advocate argued that persons who posted in social media the pictures of a suspect may face criminal damages.

PHOTO: Titay Municipal Police Station photo

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