THE rule of law as it is practiced in the Philippines is a big farce. It is supposed to establish a just society but in practice it brings about a horde of cheaters, liars, hypocrites and violators of the law.

Why is this so? Because those who, by profession, are dealing with the law—our lawmakers and lawyers—are cheaters and liars and hypocrites. In the daily news you see them acting that way, especially at this time that our candidates are running for the coming elections. The legal issues become political issues.

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Take the case of Manny Villar. Look at how Villar and his allies in the Senate are trying to defend and justify the C-5 extension project in the Senate and look how the opposition tries to defeat him. It makes your hair stand on end. Honorable senators stoop to a bunch of street urchins and fishwives.

Nene Pimentel, the honorable gentleman from Cagayan de Oro, the City of Golden Friendship, cracked his dirty joke of “insertions” on Mar Roxas. Shame to you, Nene! You did not even apologize for your remark; you just agreed to have the comment stricken off the record, as if that settles everything. If you would have said that to me, I would have beaten you to a pulp right there on the senate floor. What is in question here is a dirty play of words that tries to wave aside the legal issue of Manny’s insertions and amendments in the national government budget over the years. The legal case is actually a case of ethics. It raises the question of conflict of interest and unjust enrichment, which again made Sen. Jamby Madrigal hysterically cry out “corruption, corruption”!

There is the infamous Maguindanao massacre. The principle suspect is Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., a known ally of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. According to our rule of law Ampatuan is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. Sigfrid Fortun who, as defense lawyer is on the pay-roll of Ampatuan and maybe who knows even on that of GMA, tries through all kind of technicalities to demolish the clear evidences presented by the prosecution and to get Ampatuan out on bail. Watching these proceedings as a layman, I wonder: Is this bringing about justice or is this just grandstanding?

The other day I read in the Inquirer a news report about my good friend, the “running priest” Robert Reyes. He has been issued a warrant of arrest because of a libel case filed nine years ago by the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, in behalf of his father. Reyes had told Enrile: “You murdered my nephew and no justice was served. It is good to remind the public.”

The lawyer of Enrile who filed the motion to issue an arrest warrant and the Honorable Judge who issued the warrant of arrest are both guilty as much as Enrile is guilty of the murder. That is what common sense tells you but under the rule of law, there is no such a thing as common sense. There is the dead letter of the law which can be manipulated by the lawyer to favor the criminal and absolve the latter from his sin. Such is the sad situation of our judicial system.

There is nothing wrong with our judicial system, what is wrong are the people that handle the system. Why does it take nine years to settle a libel case? The delay is often not due to lack of time but because of political reasons. And what is bad, justice delayed is justice denied. It is high time to change the face of our lawmakers and other elected officials. In the coming elections let us choose men of integrity and not scoundrels.

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