Addressing disorder-A A +A
An Independent View
Monday, September 17, 2012
CHIEF Justice Ma Lourdes Sereno is seeking ways to improve judicial branch functionality. We wish her well.
Nine days ago, a septuagenarian street cleaner, Vegilla Salusada, was killed in a hit and run incident. Evidence recovered from the crime scene together with CCTV data indicates that a Honda Jazz vehicle was involved.
The Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO) approached the Honda dealership in Talisay for information which could help identify the owner of the vehicle. Unfortunately, the dealership refused to cooperate.
Apparently, BTAO head P/C Insp. Luisito Acebuche was advised by BCPO Director Senior Supt. Ricardo De La Paz to write a letter through the legal officer of BCPO 'if they could consider their request to solve the said incident.' But time is of the essence and this recommended approach is unduly slow and cumbersome.
If CJ Sereno is serious about improving the Judicial Branch, then one area where greater effectiveness may be achieved is to develop a closer and more fruitful relationship with the PNP. Specifically, we suggest the provision, by the judiciary, of a 24/7 service which would enable a police investigator to obtain a subpoena compelling, in this case, the Honda dealership to provide the required information. The police would need to give the judge an account of the circumstances of the case. This could be done at a 10 minute meeting to enable the judge to decide whether the circumstances are such that a subpoena should be issued. If the subpoena were issued, then the Honda dealership would be forced to provide the requested information.
Last week, Bacolod RTC Judge Ray Alan T. Drilon wrote in a local newspaper, not Sun. Star, expressing concern about private vehicles sporting "privilege plates" which read "PNP 111." We believe that all privilege plates should be illegal. The most serious social problems faced by the Nation are the consequences of the arrogance of those who inappropriately believe that they have ascendancy over the rest of us.
Recently, we were victimized, as were other road users, by the dangerously discourteous antics of a driver who had a sticker proclaiming "Supreme Court" on his rear window. And this is the real problem. Those who are responsible for dealing with traffic violations feel inhibited to confront those who claim, or purport to claim, some nebulous "authority." PNoy has prohibited wang-wang. A natural extension is to treat all road users equally and to throw the book without fear or favor at those who engage in careless or dangerous driving.
I come from a faraway land where the Liberal Party [called Whigs before the 1860s] has, for the past 300 years, tried to level the playing field so that everyone is treated equally. Some successes have been achieved but the propensity of the authorities to be untruthful when seemingly independent inquiries of disasters are made is still prevalent and difficult to deal with.
We look to the LP-Philippines-style to vigorously pursue social justice. There are some bright spots. Newly appointed National Capital Region Police office (NCRPO) director Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina has stated that the PNP has had enough of kotong law enforcers. "We will dismiss these men one by one and cleanse the organization." Espina became personally involved when SPO4 Jose de la Peña tried to extort a substantial sum from Espina's son. It transpired that there were many other complaints against de la Peña who apparently is a chronic kotong cop.
So the real question remains: why were these other complaints, made over several years, not acted upon? In the past, kotong cops were merely transferred to other places-inconvenient but not sufficiently discouraging of their illegal behavior.
One of the constitutionally enshrined Commissions designed to strengthen the Nation's governance is the Commission on Audit (CoA). We are unrelaxed about the Commission's role in the land deal involving the purchase and lease of the 7.7 hectare property owned by the province of Negros Occidental. COA Chairperson Ma Gracia Pulido Tan has stated that she has inhibited from the decision over concerns that the law firm of her husband represents the Sy family who has a substantial interest in SM Prime Holdings-one of the interested parties in the deal. If she has, indeed inhibited herself, then there is no reason why CoA cannot announce its decision. There is an obstacle to the CoA's decision which suggests that Chairperson Tan's inhibition is not unconditional. This is a serious situation, not least for the economy of the Province, but also for CoA.
If the role of Chairperson Tan's husband has created even the suspicion that the CoA's decision-making is affected, then Chairperson Tan should resign.
We do not believe that this situation would have arisen if Heidi Mendoza were made Chairperson instead of Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan. [They were both appointed to the CoA Directorate at the same time].
We support the idea of Tan's resignation and Mendoza, whose husband, a history teacher, is not likely to engender a conflict of interest involving CoA, to be made Chairperson.
As Morgan Freeman said in the concluding scene of The Bonfire of the Vanities - "The law is man's feeble attempt to lay down the principles of decency."
Quite right; but what we need is better quality implementation of the law. In other words, we need more effective and even-handed justice.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 17, 2012.