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Let Duterte’s exasperation extend to other agencies

/ 05:12 AM February 21, 2019

Will President Duterte start cracking the whip after walking out of a Cabinet meeting in exasperation over red tape and slow action?

He could demand more public service from his underlings for the rest of his term. In this regard, one area requiring vast improvement is the administration of justice.

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That justice delayed is justice denied now seems to be a forgotten truth.  This fact is made more odious when rich and powerful politicians and bureaucrats stymie cases filed by those who have already been robbed at will and with impunity.

As graft cases pile up in the Office of the Ombudsman, influential (and, of course, expensive) lawyers argue the cases of errant officials — mostly by postponing hearings, parking and losing affidavits and dragging cases out until the litigants quit in frustration.

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And now the House of Representatives has added yet another obstacle: making access to statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) more difficult.

By hiding things rather than promoting transparency, congressmen in effect admit that they have something to hide, and need to delay inordinately their SALN disclosures.

Inordinate delays sap the energies—and sometimes even the lives—of litigants and whistleblowers.  Delays also buy accused grafters time to create trumped-up charges against litigants and whistleblowers.  Sometimes, grafters escape because witnesses recant and evidence gets lost, and then some staffers of the grafters are sacrificed as patsies or fall guys.

Against this disheartening backdrop, Filipinos will have elections this year, with many grafters running again to retain, if not expand, the political power they need to thwart justice.  This is why even the party lists have been subverted by politicians (who are by no means “marginalized”).

The Filipino people’s hope for justice now lies with President Duterte.  Let’s pray that his recent exasperation translates into pushing other departments in the executive branch to effective action.  Forget congressmen; they are really there only to protect their interests, even if it undermines the administration.

JOSE Z. OSIAS, convenor, BalikProbinsiya, [email protected]

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TAGS: bureaucracy, Inquirer letters, Jose Z. Osias, Philippine justice system, public accountability, red tape, Rodrigo Duterte, SALNs
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