Judicial robes with price tag
One by one, the cases are being dismissed for “insufficient evidence.” Crooks are getting away with plunder and theft of public funds which the government never recovers. Meanwhile, new taxes are imposed and existing ones are increased to recoup what they have stolen. These developments really suck.
What is happening to the Office of the Ombudsman, the guardian of all public trust and accountability? Only penny-ante charges involving “barya” seem to be sticking, while those counting hundreds of millions of pesos get thrown out of court. Is it true that its prosecutors are no match to the savvy shysters that big-time crooks are spending their loot on to keep their butts out of jail, while those who stole small have to content themselves with ambulance chasers?
The graft prosecutors are quick to appeal the dismissals, arguing “abuse of discretion” (legal euphemism for stupidity) on the part of the trial courts. From what we learned in college about the general principles of “double jeopardy,” once a criminal case is dismissed after trial, any motion for reconsideration or appeal is already verboten territory. Do those prosecutors not know that basic rule? Or are they just going through the useless ritual of making excuses for their incompetence?
“Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales wins Ramon Magsaysay Award,” reported Inquirer on its July 27, 2016, issue, for her “moral courage and commitment to justice” in running after crooks in government. No question she must have been the “filingest” of all high-profile officials previously appointed to that office. But that’s just it: “Filing” makes headlines; but what happens after that is the thing that matters most. She and her much-vaunted prosecutors are obviously outclassed.
Unless, of course, our courts are hopelessly corrupt and can be bought if the price is right, then no due diligence and studiousness on the part of prosecutors will ever be good enough. While many are disposed to give our courts the benefit of the doubt, not a few sincerely think justice in this country is nothing more than a guessing game—a coin-flipping conundrum about whether or not the judge/justice wears a robe with a price tag. Either way, this country needs help very badly.
YVETTE SAN LUIS-PETROCELLI, firstname.lastname@example.org
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