The courts

By: Raymund Fernandez November 08,2016 - 09:07 PM

Except for this tragic decision to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, it seems rarely now that the courts are called upon to determine the contentious truth of things important. And that’s a big shame because courts are precisely the institution to determine contested claims to truth in civilized society, not politicians, not media and especially not the social networks. The more noisy politicians, media and social network “friends” become, the more we come closer to the certainty of how weak our courts have become. Of all the worrisome things to have resulted from the actions of the current regime, this will prove to be the worst of all. And we would have no one else to blame but ourselves and our leaders.

The conduct of the last elections have done much to raise the most fundamental questions. First came the question of death squads and how they were being used on the drug problem. Then after elections, there was the drug list of government officials, police, army generals, politicians, even judges who were allegedly involved. There was the investigation of Sen. Leila de Lima given much attention by the press with one scandalous claim following after another. And yet, to this day, we still have to hear of a case brought before a court of law.

Good reputations have been besmirched by allegations of doubtful provenance. None have been validated to this day. The former Cebu mayor Michael Rama and the newly elected Mayor Tomas Osmeña were implicated more by rumor than anything else. But to this day, these allegations have still to be explained much less given even the smallest iota of evidence. They have not been brought to court. And one can only wonder what the ultimate impact of this will be.

Despite the blatant attempt to “destroy” her, no charges have been brought against Sen. Leila de Lima. Meanwhile, some of the witnesses brought forward to implicate her have been killed. The recent killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. inside the Baybay, Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail gives the darkest picture of all. He was killed by CIDG operatives inside his cell as jail guards were kept back literally at gunpoint.

Meanwhile, the deaths resulting from the proudly trumpeted “war on drugs” is nearing 5,000. We are only a little over 200 deaths short of that number, touted by some to be a critical ceiling. And yet, we still have to see a case brought before a court of law notwithstanding many claims of the deaths of innocents; too many deaths, the truth behind any one of them still undetermined. None find closure in a court of law. And all these raise bothersome questions: Police are supposed to be official investigators of crimes. Have the police lost entirely their ability to determine the facts behind obvious murders? If they are not responsible for death squads, have they lost completely their ability to catch even a single death squad assassin? Shouldn’t they be properly held responsible for this obvious incompetence? Shouldn’t their supervisors and higher officials be held accountable as well? And if not the police, what about state prosecutors? What about the secretary of Justice? Isn’t it his job to make sure cases of crimes are brought before a court of law? Isn’t he in fact our primary representative when it comes to criminal cases? Which is why criminal cases are aptly titled: “The people of the Philippines vs. Mr./Mrs. So and So.”

But beyond all these, there is the judiciary itself. The war on drugs have openly targeted drug lords, pushers and users; along the way, it has damaged public officials. Rightly or wrongly? We cannot even know. And that is why we are sure the ultimate result of all these is the marginalization of our courts as arbiter of truth, the waning trust we place for even the highest court. Meanwhile, we read in the social networks as well as from partisan politicians one indeterminate argument against another, one possible falsehood against another. But they only move us closer to confusion. And farther and farther from the truth as we used to know it. And now, like a final nail on the national coffin, the most recent Supreme Court decision.

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TAGS: Baybay, Bongbong, CIDG, Espinosa, evidence, Ferdinand Marcos, friends, governance, Jr., killing, Leila De Lima, Leyte, Libingan ng Mga Bayani, Marcos, Osmeña, politicians, Rolando Espinosa, S&R, social media, social network, Tomas Osmeña
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