Court ruling nothing to crow about
Very much in the news nowadays is the poor and pathetic state of our country’s judicial system. Inquirer’s editorial “Justice as tragedy” (Opinion, 11/24/14) merely highlighted once again what has been decried for a very long time now: “Justice delayed is justice denied.” The Ozone inferno case which resulted in the conviction of most of the accused is nothing for the judiciary (particularly, the Sandiganbayan) to crow about.
It is actually an admission of its own failure. After so much delay (almost 19 years!), the “justice” delivered by that court is utterly meaningless—a consuelo de bobo! For one thing, there is that long wait again looming as the convicts spoil for more legal skirmishes in the Supreme Court. For another, compensation for the family of the victims has become moot and academic—the club owner had become bankrupt (“Ozone victims: Where’s the money?” Metro, 11/24/14).
A lot of people are quick to pin the blame on trial lawyers who, they think, resort to so many dilatory tactics. That is unfair. It should be borne in mind that all court proceedings are under the sole and exclusive control of the judges and justices. They are the ones with ample power and authority to cut any nonsense from lawyers and order them to cut to the chase, as it were.
The problem really is, so many judges and justices (whose appointments were essentially based on political patronage rather than on their reputation for probity and perspicacity) are either inept or corrupt. One can count by his fingers the rare breed of conscientious magistrates who mean business while presiding over their cases—virtually “rolling stones that gather no moss”!
The worst examples of delay come more flagrantly from the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court where many appeals and petitions have gathered dust and cobwebs! (Compañeros would warn I’m walking on very thin ice here. But in all candor, the wraths of judges or justices don’t bother me when I speak the truth! My “pro bono” clients understand. I earn a modest living more as a physician.)
What litigants don’t understand is why even simple cases raising simple issues take eons to resolve! To be sure, magistrature is demanding and requires total dedication. Old age is no excuse for judges or justices to “slow down.” If they are not up to the job, why cling to the post? If they enjoy taking their sweet time, they should just go into early retirement! Or… is that it already?
—GEORGE DEL MAR,