Beyond Reforms: Overhauling the Judiciary

Letter to the Editor
20 April, 2018

Like other basic necessities under the current dispensation, justice is escaping the reach of victims of state abuses.

It is not just that access to the courts remains expensively prohibitive. It is more because of the diminution of the tattered integrity of the reactionary justice system to mere tokenism woven to fit the elitist caprices of whoever gets hold of the reins of power.

The current intramural within the halls of the so-called court of last resort demonstrate this fact. The infighting between magistrates of factions of the ruling class reveals the sickening depths of horse-trading and political accommodation that have infected to the core this primary “pillar of justice.”

No wonder that cries for redress by victims of human rights violations remain unheeded starting at the lowest rung of the judiciary.

Take the plight of 168 households in Brgy. Mambaling, Cebu City, demolished repeatedly since January 8, 2018 even without proper relocation. Their forebears have reclaimed the site from the sea since the 1920s only to be claimed by a Johnny-come-lately who earned the favor of a court. Now the residents have brought their case at the doorstep of the every responsible government agency and judicial body, but so far for naught.

Look at the recent case of student activist Myles Albasin, who together with five others, was accused of being a rebel caught in a gunfight even if paraffin tests indicated that she, or her companions, did not fire a gun.

Similarly accused of being an active NPA commander is a 76-year-old former priest-turned-gardener who was arrested on November 9, 2017 in Santander, Cebu along with two farmers, for purportedly leading ambuscades in “insurgency-free” Bohol.

Then, there is the cold-blooded murder of KARAPATAN-Dumaguette Coordinator Eliza Badayos who was ambushed while leading investigation of military abuses in Negros Oriental on November 28, 2017. Until now, the police’s painstakingly-slow investigation has nothing to show.

There are many more ludicrous testaments to the inefficacy of the prevailing court system to dispense of justice. If it has succeeded in anything, it is to justify the establishment of stumbling blocks to respect of people’s rights and attainment of their basic interests. If it has upheld anything, it is the rule of the moneyed powerful over the impoverished many.

Our struggling people have long stopped pinning hope in those hoodlums in robes. Instead, they have increasingly relied on their collective action on the platform of thoroughgoing change to liberate every strand of our society from the clutches of bureaucrat capitalists.

They know justice cannot be achieved in a judicial bureaucracy held hostage by the interest of the status quo.

They know that only by overhauling the country’s structures of violence can genuine justice and peace be realized.

They know only then can the judiciary be transformed into bastion of justice and human rights. ###

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