Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pnoy's Wish

Pnoy Had A Wish...

Recently, Pnoy announced that his wish is to have an early prosecution of the graft and other high profile cases by 2012. It is a laudable thought but expressed rather weakly as a wish and like wishes one would need a magical wand to make them come true. With the snail’s pace our justice moves, it would be more appropriate to use a horsewhip or perhaps an electric prod rather than the tooth fairy’s wand to help things along.

Our justice system rests on the bedrock belief that the accused is innocent until proven guilty and the guilt has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt even though this may be an impossibility. Due process ensures that the rights and liberties of the individual are protected from errors that he or the defense panel might make and from the less judicious judgments by the courts. Better to err in favour of the accused than having to see an innocent man hanged. That sounds unassailable and difficult to argue against but what about the right of the collective public which seems to be disadvantaged by this judicial school of thought? The overprotection of the individual liberties has been overly favoured at the expense of the interest of the larger body of people,  resulting into a situation that is inimical to their safety and well being.The blatancy and the frequency of the cases involving the wealthy and the powerful making use of their money and connections to delay or even subvert the observance of justice is prevalent in Philippine courts that it seems almost impossible to achieve quick justice or just plain justice itself. 
The problem with due process is that it tends to drag especially in cases where the accused has the wherewithal to engage the services of high calibre lawyers who know all the dirty tricks of their dastardly trade. 

By design, due process is supposed to ensure that the common “Juan” is not victimised by his circumstance and simple perspective, however, most of the cases which have made full use of these advantages are those of the privileged warlord, the bandit elite, the influential politician, the mighty military and others of a similar ilk who invariably engage a “dream team” of lawyers which only they, with their ill gotten resources can afford. The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been a favourite recourse to stay the government’s order and/or provides the accused an extension of freedom indefinitely. Of late, even the medical practitioners have been conscripted as pawns to delay the judicial process.
The ordinary “Juan” more often than not, when accused, ends up staying in jail due to being convicted without proper counsel, not able to secure a bond or for delays caused by an overburdened judiciary.

In theory due process should work for us but in actual fact it doesn’t all the time. Often times it favours an unsavoury few.

Pnoy to make true his wish should start entertaining Draconian measures.

Because of the prevailing situation shouldn’t we consider suspending some the apparent privileges of the accused in due process to level the playing field and give the prosecutors a sporting chance to do good for the state? It could be thought of as an emergency power which the legislature can give to the President as an extraordinary privilege. The good of the many should take precedence against the liberty of a few individuals.

Perhaps we can make an exception on a few select cases where it is imperative to have cases settled in the most expeditious manner unfettered by the constitutional guarantees of an accused person. What is hateful is for some biggie going scot free because of a technicality, a stretched jurisprudence, overwhelming numbers of witnesses, evidences (mostly manufactured) and where there is overuse or abuse of these advantages through the sleekness of arguments of high calibre lawyers, the use of money, influence and all advantages which can be had by the extensiveness of the defendants’ resource. Wouldn’t it be nice if technicalities should not even be considered as it does not make innocent the accused? Errors in procedure on the side of the government should be given an opportunity to be corrected and not used as a reason for the outright dismissal of cases no matter how strong the proof of guilt. It would be nice if there is no provision in the law which inhibit the accused of making statements prejudicial to his case or in some cases a suspension of the Miranda doctrine... or just plain appraisals of evidences and testimonies regardless of how they were acquired. Cases involving graft, plunder, heinous crimes should be the primary qualification for being in the list earmarked for expeditious processing. Wouldn’t it be nice if a temporary amendment is given to eliminate the constitutional prohibition on suspending some of the due process rights in these select cases? Under the constitution, these rights include, among others: the right to the presumption of innocence and to a fair trial; the right to an attorney; the right against self-incrimination; the right of a defendant to know the charges and evidence against him; and the right against double jeopardy.

In the Philippines corruption and governance are hopelessly intertwined but are in opposing ends of a spectrum.  Governance seeks to serve the interest of the people...corruption by its use of authority, influence and money serves selfish interests of a small group. We are bound by a justice system that dreams to protect and uphold the rights of the common “Juan” while corruption discreetly or sometimes brazenly arrogates unto itself these rights and finds opportunity to use the very safeguards to protect the common “Juans” to defraud them of their rights and privileges.

C'mon Pnoy, even at the risk of being looked at as a fascist, put on your shining armour and shield, take on the challenge of your wish and be the white knight of our dreams. What do we care if you are likened to an Inquisitor, an Ayatollah, a Hitler or a Stalin (at least for a while) if you are able to realize the dream of prosecuting all the lords of corruption, the robber barons, and the wang-wang gangs in our midst. Everything starts from here; this is the linchpin which holds together the wheels of your marvellous and heroic drive to eradicate corruption in our beloved Pilipinas.