What is wrong with our justice system-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Saturday, October 19, 2013
I HAVE written before on this topic. Last October 13, Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban wrote a column in Inquirer on the Filipino concept of justice.
His column is based on a lecture conducted by Dean Jose Manuel I. Diokno. Panganiban asked the question: Is justice an imported Western concept? Do we have a native Filipino concept of justice? He gives an extensive analysis of the words justice and law in the different Filipino languages and dialects.
His conclusion is that its fundamental element is fairness which respects the rights and freedom of individuals and seeks to repair the injustice that society has inflicted on the poor. At the end of his column Panganiban asks: “what does our justice system look like today? Does it reflect the Filipino concept of justice? Before I write my next column on this subject, perhaps I should first ask readers to write theirs.” I wrote him my reaction to his column: you nowhere mentioned in your column the common sense of man or the lack of common sense in our judicial system. Panganiban agreed that my thesis on common sense made a lot of sense.
Recently, I came across a quotation from a book of John M. Hull The Tactile Heart. It speaks there of a theology of disability and brokenness. In the Apostles Creed we pray that Christ sits at the right hand of the Father. That means that Christ sits in heaven with his broken body. The brokenness and disability of mankind is represented in the body of Christ who suffered on the Cross but continues to suffer sitting at the right hand of the Father.
In his time on earth Christ was furious at the lawyers of his time and he called them Pharisees, because he said, ‘you load on men burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not move a finger to lift’. The broken body of the Church is the broken body of Christ. The same body is in the Eucharist that we celebrate daily.
I believe what is wrong with our justice system is that we have lawyers and judges who have no common sense and therefore no conscience either. They refuse to see that their clients are criminals and guilty like hell. Therefore our justice system creates victims that suffer unendurable burdens of injustice and exploitation and the lawyers, who are without conscience, do not move a finger to lift them. And this happens in a country that calls itself the only Christian country in Asia. Countries in other parts of the world have more sensible solutions to this problem. For instance in the States they have a so-called jury system wherein, aside from lawyers, ordinary people with common sense can speak up their mind. Their common sense says: let us stop this nonsense. My native country Holland doesn’t have a jury system but I am sure Dutch people wouldn’t allow this to happen in our judicial system. This goes against the Dutch culture.
In my 50 years experience in the Philippines I have noticed that the Filipino culture is different in this respect from ours. Is this a matter of honesty or sincerity? In the early years, I remember I had a very close friend in my parish who asked me one time to lend him some money which he needed badly. Of course, I lent him the money, but I never saw my friend back again. Aside from losing my money and a very good friend, I lost my trust also in many Filipino people. This would not have happened to me in Holland.
Aside from lacking a common sense, many Filipinos may have a lack of conscience and therefore also a distorted or immoral sense of justice and truth.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 19, 2013.