Not justice system’s fault-A A +A
Saturday, January 26, 2013
THE shooting rampage at the Marcelo Fernan Palace of Justice in Cebu that left three persons dead has been blamed on the imperfections of the justice system, among others.
Canadian national John Pope had pending cases before the prosecutor’s office and the courts, but he went to the Palace of Justice last Jan. 22 not to face them but to shoot dead Dr. Reynold Rafols, a complainant against him, and Rafols’s lawyer, Jubian Achas, and to wound critically Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño. The prosecutor remains in a hospital intensive care unit.
Pope could have shot more people but policemen spotted him and disabled him by shooting his arm and leg. A court employee then reportedly saw Pope shoot himself in the head, making him the third person dead.
Aside from the shock and outrage over the deaths, the immediate reaction was to question how Pope was able to sneak in two handguns to the courts and to call for an improvement in the delivery of justice. Pope had complained of corruption in the police and delays in the disposition of cases against him, and some of the comments of the public were on how the judicial processes should be fast-tracked and for corruption at all levels stopped.
The issue of security at the courtrooms is being addressed with the introduction of new and stricter measures by various government offices.
Not only court offices in Cebu but also those in other parts of the country are undertaking stricter screening of visitors and more actions are being lined up to prevent a repeat of the incident. The matter of justice delayed or injustice as claimed by Pope is questionable.
It was not true that the wheels of justice for Pope were not turning because he was in court precisely to face the charges hurled against him. Witnesses said Pope was a frequent visitor at the Palace of Justice. He was out on bail on a different case and he had a lawyer who represented him and who was tasked to ensure his rights were respected. Pope should have been deported but he was somehow allowed to stay to face the complaints.
Yet Pope had complained about the police and the failures of the Philippine justice system, even as hundreds of Filipinos were languishing in jail for years, even decades, and their cases were not moving for lack of legal representation. There are those wrongly accused but could not regain their freedom or post bail because of poverty.
Pope’s cases were moving and he was free to roam around to pursue his quest for justice. But Pope was a disturbed individual who apparently saw things differently and who insisted on his own point of view. It was he who couldn’t wait for justice to be served.
To be fair to the families of Rafols and Achas who died and Casiño who remains in critical condition at the hospital, the wheels of justice were turning for Pope but it was he who couldn’t wait for justice to be reached.
The Philippine judicial system can stand improvement and the testament to this is the number of Filipinos still suffering and waiting for justice to be swiftly and fairly rendered.
But what Pope did is not a model of what other people wrongly accused or suffering injustice should do.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2013.