Skewed justice system could be fatalBy Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Many judges and prosecutors are now carrying guns and taking part in practical-shooting competitions to protect themselves from people who may resent certain decisions they hand down.
Guns cannot protect judges and prosecutors; handing a fair and just decision can.
A litigant will accept the decision of a prosecutor to file his case in court or drop it, as well as a judge’s verdict even if it is contrary to his interest if he knows it is fair and just.
A losing litigant will accept the verdict because he knows that the wheels of justice turned the right way.
But if he knows that the prosecutor or judge was influenced by money or other considerations in making his/her decision, he might entertain ideas “contrary to law” to quote legalese.
In my years as a columnist writing mostly about crime and corruption, I’ve found that in most cases, what was behind the killing of a judge was a decision considered unfair and unjust by a litigant.
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Why are there so many sympathizers and supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA)?
Because the wheels of justice not only ground exceedingly slow for many complainants, but also were unfair decisions.
Many aggrieved citizens in remote areas of the country don’t go to the regular courts for redress, but to the NPA which exacts swift and unorthodox but fair justice.
Can you blame a poor farmer, for example, whose daughter was raped and killed by abusive soldiers or policemen, for seeking redress from the NPA instead of from the courts?
Can you blame the same farmer for giving aid and comfort to an enemy of the state who was attentive and sympathetic to him when he had a problem?
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In many parts of the country, complainants don’t go to the courts because they find the cards stacked against them: long and tedious hearings, constant postponements of the trial, absentee judges assigned to hear their cases, a new judge taking over a long trial and money running out.
Sometimes, they agree to an out-of-court settlement with the people who brought about their misery.
The money that they receive from the settlement is used to buy a gun or to hire an assassin.
The score is settled, no thanks to the justice system.
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When I was a police reporter in the martial law years, I covered the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG).
I sometimes accompanied MISG agents when they arrested prosecutors—then called fiscals—who demanded money from litigants.
I recall one Manila fiscal who not only tried to extort money from a litigant but also wanted to “borrow” the litigant’s wife for one night.
He was arrested by MISG agents in an entrapment operation.
But the wayward fiscal was able to wriggle his way out of the extortion case; he even became a judge later on.
It seems things have not changed much since the martial law years.
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Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III texted me to clarify what was featured last Saturday in this space:
“The Ohara kidnapping case is now out of the hands of the fact-finding panel, which I headed. Our report was endorsed to Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, who formed a three-man investigating panel to conduct the formal preliminary investigation. There is no vacillation on my part and we stand by our findings.”
Many people hope the case is filed in court soon.
More from this Column:
- How easily voters forget
- Dead man biggest winner
- My fearless forecasts
- Jojo Binay’s juvenile tantrum
- Our twisted system of justice