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Our system works, DOJ says on drop in rule of law index

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:52 AM October 17, 2021
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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s judicial system has remained functional and, aside from a few sensational cases, crime incidence has even declined over the past few years.

This was the view of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Saturday when asked about the global Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project that stemmed from the assessments of lawyers and experts that adherence to the rule of law in the country has plummeted since President Duterte took office in 2016.

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Guevarra declined to directly comment on the index since he claimed not to have read the annual report showing that the country’s adherence to the rule of law slumped to its lowest level under the Duterte administration.

“Our law enforcement, prosecutorial and judicial institutions, although imperfect like any other human institutions have been functioning as they should,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary told reporters.

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“Be that as it may, the government will exert greater efforts to uphold and promote the rule of law in our country,” said Guevarra, himself a law professor with more than 30 years of experience in various fields of law and in government.

Guevarra was also tasked by the President to investigate the killings of thousands during the deadly campaign against illegal drugs, for which Mr. Duterte now faces charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Lawyers in the Duterte administration have since argued that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over Mr. Duterte because the country has a judicial system that is functioning as it should.

But Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said the index rebuffed the claim that the Philippines has a working judicial system that safeguards and promotes the basic human rights of Filipinos.

“It is distressing and embarrassing that the Philippines again found itself in a cellar performance in another international monitoring of important gauges of governance,” he lamented.

“The fact that the Philippines failed most in fundamental rights and criminal justice system in the global index means that there is something terribly wrong,” Olalia said in a statement.

“[It] is a reflection of the pits we find ourselves in, where the premium is on ‘order and security’ from the lens of the state.”

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Vice President Leni Robredo, also a lawyer, said she was not surprised.

“It was saddening, but not totally unexpected. We knew what happened in the last five and a half years. I was still in Congress as part of the interagency committee that ensured our rankings would go up, but the opposite happened now,” she said.

Her running mate, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, said rule of law could be considered as the “hard drive” that activates the delivery of social services on the ground. —WITH REPORT FROM MARIEJO S. RAMOS

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TAGS: DoJ, DOJ Secretary Guevarra, Judicial System, World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2021
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