As if the judiciary didn’t have enough problems resolving the mammoth backlog of cases and the inadequate resources at their disposal, it also has to deal with raging complainants like the late John Pope.
As most everyone who read the news know by now, Pope fatally shot his accuser, Dr. Rene Rafols, his lawyer Juvian Achas and severely injured Asst. Prosecutor Maria. Theresa Calibugan-Casiño in a shooting rampage that was stopped by two police officers last Monday.
After everything that happened, at least two things stand out: Pope’s unresolved disappointment over the country’s justice system and the security in place at the Palace of Justice situated at the Capitol compound.
Whatever one can say about Pope, particularly those who had the misfortune of crossing paths with him during one of his temper fits, his rants about a corrupt judicial system should neither be dismissed nor taken lightly.
He even wrote about a journal about it entitled “Justice Denied” and sent excerpts and a book to Cebu Daily News and other media outlets. Most tellingly, he alleged that the going rate for bribes to prosecutors and judges is P40,000.
Point 2 is the Palace of Justice security coverage which, while disallowing the entry of those not in proper attire—i.e., shorts and slippers—surprisingly allowed someone like Pope to enter the premises despite carrying two firearms.
At the time of their deaths, condemnations were voiced towards Pope but like the victims, he didn’t lack for sympathizers. Still Pope’s resulting action which he already anticipated with his words that “violence begets violence” isn’t justified at all either before the laws of humanity or before God.
Despite this, Supreme Court officials, judges and prosecutors will have to deal anew not only with Pope’s contention but the equally vocal sentiments of those similarly prejudiced, who don’t have Pope’s finances nor his access to local and international media outlets and yet have seen their cases buried and gathering dust in the backburner of every court in Cebu.
Pope’s case was said to be “isolated” and his violent response blamed on his misunderstanding about the rules and processes of the country’s judicial system.
Maybe so, but it’s not only Pope who complained and died without seeing their cases resolved by the courts. Countless others who don’t know and really don’t care about the inner workings of that system whose demands for justice remain unanswered should not be continually ignored nor their written complaints be consigned to the wastebasket.
If this country’s justice system were as responsive and decisive as Pope or those oppressed long enough wanted it to be, maybe there’s little to no need at all for prosecutors to arm themselves.
The deaths of Pope and his victims only show the shortcomings of the country’s justice system. Something should be done about it now.