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Sluggish justice reason Duterte’s tirades vs high court resonate

/ 12:20 AM September 15, 2016

The complaints have always been the same: One of the undeniable reasons criminality has gone berserk in this country is the sluggish administration of justice. Criminals no longer have any respect for the law under a rotten prosecutorial system that metes out punishment for crimes only after decades of judicial mumbo-jumbo. How often have victims seen criminals walk out of the courtroom, only to commit more crimes while on bail, and enjoying “due process” that never seems to end?

There is a real problem with the work ethics of our judges.  Many of them behave like petty tyrants impervious to the persistent public clamor for speedy administration of justice. They don’t care about what people think and do their job at their own convenience and leisure.

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In Metro Manila, a typical example: They come to court so late in the morning with but an hour or so left to take care of any business. Nothing much gets done, and trials are postponed again and again, months in between, “due to clogged dockets.”

Exasperated lawyers report them anonymously to the Supreme Court which, however, does nothing unless a “verified complaint” is signed by the one complaining. What lawyer is crazy enough to identify himself as a snitch and risk the wrath of the targeted judge before whom he has pending cases?

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If the Supreme Court is really bent on weeding out those scalawags in robes, it can always send someone to check on their bad habits incognito, using the leads provided. Or more simply, it can just place a call to the court concerned to check if the judge is already there on the dot or not. It does not need a lawyer to swear on that. Just a little imagination and common sense.

The Supreme Court has the overall responsibility of keeping all lower courts in sync with its objective of delivering speedy and sound justice. But then again, what example is it setting for them to emulate if that Court itself is remiss in discharging its own duties? As the saying goes, “As above, so below”; or to use the Tagalog version for a clearer  picture, “Kung ano ang ginagawa ng mga nakakatanda, ganun din ang gagawin ng mga bata” (What the elders do, the young ones will follow).

The Supreme Court is quick to invoke the Constitution when its “fiscal autonomy” is threatened, but nonchalantly ignores it when it causes inconvenience to old and decrepit justices who continue to defy its mandate to decide cases within two years. There is reportedly about 8,000 cases still pending resolution in that Court. That backlog could not have happened if the justices only paid heed to that mandate and worked their butts off. And if the task has become heavier than they had bargained for, then, for Pete’s sake, they should retire early and give way to younger magistrates to bring that Court up to speed with the crying need of the times.

The judicial buck stops at the Supreme Court. President Duterte’s tirade against it for all the monumental delays in the administration of justice resonates with many people who are sick of its lame excuses. He is correct in daring that Court to live up to the people’s expectations or be consigned to irrelevance by his resort to extrajudicial means to restore peace and order in our decaying society. Sobrang nakakainis na po ang bagal ng hustisya sa bayan natin (The snail-paced justice in our country has become overly annoying).

—ARNULFO M. EDRALIN, [email protected]

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TAGS: justice, Rodrigo Duterte, Supreme Court
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