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The Legal Process

The Legal Process

Ronald Roy

​Senate President Protempore Jinggoy Estrada, concurrent chairman of the committee on labor, employment and resource development, cannot be blamed for chiding the House for its inaction on the long overdue Batas Kasambahay bill. But then, he’ll just have to be patient in dealing with a bicameral process that can be at times counter-productive.

​Around two million house helps stand to benefit from the proposed bill, and the longer the House delays its proffer of a counterpart bill, “the longer we’ll be depriving them of decent working conditions, benefits and labor rights,“ Estrada said. The senate’s original Kasambahay covers membership and benefits in Philhealth, Pag-IBIG and Employees Compensation Commission. The intended statute promises to be the groundbreaking magna carta for household helpers.

​I was told recently by a former congressman that this early politics is rearing its ugly head. He intimated that certain insecure quarters do not find appealing the idea of Jinggoy Estrada being given a legislative trail blazer that might just catapult him to the presidency in 2016. They know only too well that apart from his famous surname and the support of a major political party, Jinggoy Estrada has an enviable performance record in lawmaking output and perfect attendance.

​Well, I might add that many representatives, in petrified deference to their wives, would rather not entertain additional burdens on the family’s domestic budgets. It’s no secret some brilliant congressional floor debaters are outclassed bedroom squabblers.

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​In our criminal justice system, an accused’s rights are so sacrosanct that he can be convicted only on proof beyond reasonable doubt. This simply means that it is extremely difficult to convict. Thus, in the crafting of our criminal laws, court rules and jurisprudence, much care is taken to accommodate this partiality accorded by the law to the accused. Any lawyer easily recalls how as a student he was brainwashed into espousing the canon that the acquittal of ten guilty men is preferable to the conviction of one innocent man.

​In time, however, I have come to sense that this legal prejudice has started to blur the line separating just from unjust, right from wrong. What was once seen as magnanimity of the mightily resourceful State softening its stand against a comparatively ill-equipped combatant defending himself in court—an obviously generous concession by the State to level the playing field—is now a foolish act of misguided altruism.

​A society will crumble under its overindulgent munificence, given the unabated resurgence of debauchery, depravity, wantonness, hate, greed and whatever other forms of evil now eroding its foundations. It must post-haste rewrite the rules of adversarial combat for its own survival. And until the revisions come, our courts will have to discharge the unpleasant task of flirting with judicial legislation—the unconstitutional act of interpreting an existing law in a way clearly opposed to what the lawmakers intended.

​For instance, the procedural rules, jurisprudence and statutes as they now stand suggest that the complexity and magnitude of the State’s case against the Ampatuans were never thought to be possible, otherwise, we would not now have such a paucity of measures to neutralize what are generally seen as their dilatory tactics.

It hurts when the People of the Philippines are not benefitting from the constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial. It especially excruciates, because they have seen how one family has dishonored an entire nation, and yet they can only helplessly watch as the case drags on at snail’s pace. But then, that’s the legal process—as it still stands.

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​Blessed is any group of people dedicated to helping others. For instance, history is replete with self-sacrifice missions in the priesthood, as in numerous other organizations like the Red Cross and the Rotary. But if the bond fostered among the members is such as to serve one another primarily and others only secondarily, as in the case of some fraternity brothers and some mistahs in the Philippines Military Academy, the bond goes awry.

​Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was correct in branding as constitutionally infirm Sen. Gringo Honasan’s proposed resolution expressing the senate’s sense in supporting fellow mistah Ping Lacson’s entreaty for a remanding of the Dacer-Orbito to the prosecutor’s office for a reinvestigation. The proposed resolution is a potentially confrontational legislative intrusion into exclusively judicial affairs. What Honasan should do is to encourage Lacson to address his petition for relief to the Supreme Court. This is the recognized process.

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​The National Bureau of Investigation is essentially an agency with an anti-accused bend of mind. Its chief was Mariano Mison at the time of the 1991 Vizconde massacre. Viewed as responsible for the disappearance of the sperm specimen which might have cleared Hubert Webb thru DNA testing over 10 yrs ago, Mison has surfaced to refute his critics’ innuendos by saying in effect he is not accountable for the specimen’s loss because Webb is guilty anyway. Harrumph!

(Email: arnydolor@yahoo.com, cell # 09186449517)

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