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Court decisions for sale now the norm?

08:50 PM January 01, 2012

The inevitable collision course between President Aquino and Chief Justice Renato Corona underscores the role the Judiciary plays in the fight against graft and corruption in our country. The courts are supposed to be the unassailable and incorruptible venue where people—most especially the poor and marginalized—can get justice. I am afraid the opposite has become the norm rather than the exception. Judicial decisions are sold to the highest bidder in stealth and secrecy. Any lawyer worth his salt can identify which judges can be bought. In fact, an informal survey among some trial lawyers indicated that only around 10 percent of our judges cannot be bought. That leaves a whopping 90 percent of them up for sale. When judges were asked why such was the case, they said it was because lawyers come to them with offers very hard to refuse. This perhaps explains the flip-flopping and arbitrariness of many decisions from the lowest courts to the highest court of the land, which the President is complaining about.

It is therefore not very surprising that most of those who are in the legal profession support the Chief Justice in his battle with the President, saying that the independence of the Judiciary has to be protected in a democracy. A good and valid point. But is this solicitousness perhaps motivated more by the desire to preserve the status quo, which is very lucrative for both judges and lawyers but does not serve the ends of justice especially for the poor and marginalized? Almost anybody who has gone through a court litigation will tell you that, more often than not, what matters most is the amount of money one can put into the case for both lawyers and judges, as well as  the connections he has with the latter, and not about its merits. There are several notable exceptions among the Judiciary, of course, but these are few and far between. These judges truly deserve to be declared living heroes of the Philippines forthwith!

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The only way our judicial system can be rid of corruption is for judges to refuse and denounce it as they encounter it whenever, wherever and with whomsoever. That requires integrity, strength of character, uncompromising principles, wisdom and the grace of God. This is easier said than done, of course. But perhaps the honorable members of our Judiciary will bear in mind that there is a Supreme Judge. Without fail, He reviews every decision of theirs, and someday they will appear before Him for their own judgment, which will be final and immediately executory, with no recourse whatsoever for motions for reconsideration.

—SAMUEL J. YAP,

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TAGS: Aquino, court decisions, Graft and Corruption, judiciary, letters, Renato corona
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