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‘We lack common sense’

09:56 PM October 28, 2013

This is with reference to former chief justice Artemio Panganiban’s column on the Filipino concept of justice  (Opinion, 10/13/13). Panganiban asked the question: “What does our justice system look like today? Does it reflect the Filipino concept of justice?” He asked the readers of his column for their opinions.

I sent him my reaction by e-mail, telling him he nowhere mentioned in his column the common sense of man or the lack of common sense in our judicial system. The former chief justice agreed with me and said that my thesis on common sense made a lot of sense.

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I wish to elaborate: As Christians we know from the Gospel that Jesus of Nazareth was furious at the lawyers of his time. He called them Pharisees and likened them to whitewashed tombs which looked beautiful on the outside but were rotten and corrupt deep inside. He told them that they heaped on men burdens that were unbearable, burdens that they themselves did not move a finger to lift.

I believe that what is wrong with our justice system is that we have many lawyers and judges who have no common sense and therefore have no conscience either. They refuse to see that their clients are criminals and are guilty like hell. Therefore our justice system creates victims that suffer unbearable burdens that conscience-less lawyers don’t move a finger to lift.

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And this happens in a country that calls itself the only Christian country in Asia. Countries in other parts of the world have more sensible solutions to this problem. For instance, in the United States, they have a so-called jury system where aside from lawyers, ordinary people with common sense can speak their mind. Their common sense says: Let us stop this nonsense.

My native country Holland doesn’t have a jury system, but I am sure the Dutch people wouldn’t allow this to happen in our judicial system. That goes against the Dutch culture.

In my 50 years’ experience in the Philippines, I have noticed that the Filipino culture is different from ours in this respect. Is this a matter of honesty or sincerity?

In my early years of stay here, I remember I had a very close friend in my parish who asked me to lend him some money that he needed badly. Of course, I lent him the money, but I never saw my friend again. Aside from losing my money and a very good friend, I also lost my trust in many Filipino people. This would not have happened to me in Holland. Aside from lacking common sense, many Filipinos may also be suffering from a lack of conscience and therefore have a distorted or immoral sense of justice and truth.

 —ARNOLD VAN VUGT, Cagayan de Oro City, [email protected]

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