Burden of proof

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    THE much-publicized narco list of President Duterte – in reality a list of government officials and policemen written by the PNP and perhaps the PDEA and submitted to the President – evokes many questions to be answered, and it would seem that PNP chief Archie Gamboa and DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año are hard put in providing answers.

    First, Gamboa said he would not confirm nor deny that Lt. Colonel Jovie Espenido, the Duterte fair-haired boy of the anti-illegal drugs campaign, is really on the narco list. Then Espenido himself admitted that he was on the list, and he started to grant a series of interviews with the media to explain his side.

    Gamboa is peeved at what Espenido did, saying they had a gentleman’s agreement that no one will talk about this matter with the media or the public. It looked like Gamboa did his part of the bargain but Espenido, after keeping quiet for some time, decided to talk.

    Gamboa recently met with the 357 policemen mentioned in the list, saying that there is a two-way process of adjudication now ongoing, and while this is under way, their names would not be revealed to the public. The process involves adjudication of one week in the regional and directorial levels, then the cases go to the national level for another process of adjudication which will last for three weeks. The results of the adjudication will be submitted to the Office of the President, according to Gamboa.

    Going by Gamboa’s word, the whole adjudication procedure will take all of one month, and it would really be unfair to policemen who are not guilty to be pilloried in media for one month without proper due process.

    Second, another interesting development is the pronouncement of Secretary Año yesterday that the “burden of proof’’ is on the 357 cops included in the narco list to exonerate them and have their names stricken off the list.

    Año said the police officers in the watch-list must present pieces of evidence that will vindicate them and have their names removed from the illegal drugs roster.

    The narco list is a consolidation of intelligence and other reports from law-enforcement agencies and still needs to be verified and validated. Aside from uniformed personnel, the list also includes local officials, prosecutors and judges.

    Año said the 357 cops must present evidence to the four agencies handling illegal drug reports, led by the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, that they are clean and that their names should be stricken off the narco list.

    Someone should tell Secretary Ano that in logic as in debate and argumentation, and in any intellectual discourse, he who makes an assertion is the one who has the burden of proof. The narco list, however discredited, is an assertion. Why would the 357 cops and Espenido be the ones to show evidence to the contrary?