Justice delayed; and ‘Madam Arlene’ still in business?
The Office of the Ombudsman reportedly is pressing the Supreme Court to clarify and set clearer standards as to when delay in the disposition of cases is “inordinate” or just a regular part of “due process” (“Define ‘inordinate delay’, Ombudsman asks SC,” News, 4/2/17).
The Ombudsman was railing against the cavalier dismissal by the Sandiganbayan of not a few high-profile corruption cases, due to what that court deemed a violation of the right of the accused to speedy trial. The accused in many such instances were acquitted and got to keep and enjoy the fruits of their looting.
Does the Ombudsman really expect that kind of clarification from the Supreme Court? Does it expect that Court to lay the basis for itself to be hoist by its own petard? One only has to harp back on what former Commission on Audit commissioner Bartolome Fernandez Jr. wrote a long time ago: “On one occasion, during a chat with a retired Supreme Court justice, I called his attention to the constitutional mandate for the Supreme Court to render decisions within 24 months. His retort floored me: ‘Alam mo, Bart, hindi namin pinapansin yan’” (Opinion, 5/9/13).
As it was then, so is it still now: That “constitutional mandate” continues to be flashed down the toilet.
Thus defying even the Constitution, the Supreme Court is the most guilty violator of the people’s right to speedy administration of justice. Its own humungous backlog of unresolved cases is a matter of public knowledge—and frustration. What then is its moral right and ascendancy to pontificate and lecture to the lower courts (the Sandiganbayan included) on the need to adhere to any metric of disposing cases more quickly?
Come to think of it, not even when the very foundation of our justice system was shaken by reports years ago that one “Madam Arlene” was selling decisions to the highest bidder could make that Court move faster to repair the serious damage. Up to now, nothing has been heard of its supposed “investigation.” So, is that mysterious, creepy woman still in business or not?
ROMANO MORANO MONTENEGRO, firstname.lastname@example.org
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