Philippines’ justice system on trial, President Aquino suppresses international inquiry

What unfortunate timing. Just as the Philippines is under the microscope for its world-renowned snail-paced justice system and lack of overall transparency, its president, Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, reportedly blacklists nine Hong Kong journalists from entry into the Philippines. The banning of the journalists is on account of how they allegedly “heckled President Benigno Aquino during a meeting of the APEC grouping last year and presented a threat to public safety.”

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency recommended the ban last June because the journalists were disrespectful of the president, said Elaine Tan, a spokeswoman of the Bureau of Immigration.

“A blacklist order (has been issued) against the identified foreign nationals,” Tan said in a statement on Saturday.

“One of the grounds, anchored on the interest of public safety, is when a foreign national shows disrespect or makes offensive utterances to symbols of Philippine authority.”

The journalists had questioned Aquino aggressively about whether he had met Hong Kong leaders over the deaths of eight visitors from the former British colony in a 2010 bus siege in the Philippine capital, Tan said.

In the Philippines, 'Justice' is just a slogan used for selling t-shirts.
In the Philippines, ‘Justice’ is just a slogan used for selling t-shirts.
The families of the victims of this appalling incident as well as the broader Hong Kong community believe justice has not been properly served and that the Philippine Government has not made good on its commitment to ensure those who are responsible for the mishandling of the crisis response surrounding it are held to account. Indeed, no ranking Filipino official of consequence has been charged despite the astounding levels of incompetence exhibited by the Philippine Police which was captured on video and aired live to millions of viewers all over the world as the tragedy unfolded.

The unethical — borderline criminal — behaviour of Philippines’ Media organisations and personalities that covered the drama are also seen by many observers to have been significantly instrumental to the degeneration of the negotiations between the police and gunman as they overstepped the bounds of good journalistic codes of behaviour during such crises and compromised the credibility of negotiators with their irresponsible reporting. None from the Philippines’ media industry have been charged for their role in the tragedy either.

Bad timing, indeed. Four years on and the Manila Bus Hostage Massacre joins an ever-lengthening list of high-profile acts of mass homicide in the Philippines that have become case studies of everything a justice system should not be. Last week saw the conviction and sentencing of government officials responsible for building safety lapses that resulted in the deaths of 162 young Filipino students in a fire that engulfed the Ozone Disco Club in Quezon City where they celebrated the end of the school year. The tragedy happened in 1996 which means it took more than 18 years for the case to crawl through the Philippines’ criminal justice system.

Last week also marked the fifth anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre in which 58 people were murdered allegedly by political warlord Andal Ampatuan in 2009. The case remains in limbo owing to the powerful politicians and feudal clans involved in the case. Interestingly enough, the lawyer who is representing the victims’ families had also recently been distracted by a more “newsworthy” case of late, the Jeffrey Laude murder case which has riveted Filipinos over the last couple of months. Roque also represents the victim’s family in that one. Suffice to say, that one is progressing through the justice pipeline at a more modern pace thanks to the close supervision of the United States Government.

So, indeed, the timing of President BS Aquino’s adolescent tantrum against these Hong Kong journalists couldn’t have been worse. In his actions are revealed the sort of society Aquino governs, and re-enforces perceptions that the Philippines is host to an inherently unjust society governed by people from whom this banal injustice emanates. Small wonder that the Philippines has become a global laughingstock and its high-horsed stands on human rights seen to be nothing more than mere fashion statements. Amnesty International (AI) is starting to see the half-baked attention that the Philippine government gives to the solving of crime as tantamount to “a mockery of justice.” In its recent report on the Maguindanao Massacre case, the international human rights watchdog noted…

“Justice delayed is justice denied. Five years after the Maguindanao massacre, the cases are still inching through the Philippine court system and not a single person has been held to account,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Philippines Researcher.

Almost half the 197 suspects for whom arrest warrants have been issued since the massacre remain at large. Meanwhile, no prosecution has been concluded, nor has any perpetrator been convicted.

Apparently, the lives of journalists seem to matter a lot more than 162 Filipino students, or nine Hong Kong tourists seeing how much more media mileage any murder case that involves dead media people gets nowadays. At the end of the day, it does not matter whether a murder victim is a young student, a holidaying overseas tourist, or a transgender or homosexual for that matter. They are all just people who should all be treated as such under a modern justice system. This simple notion — that the victims are all people — seems to be lost even in those who supposedly champion the plight of the Philippines hundreds of thousands of murder victims.

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15 Comments on “Philippines’ justice system on trial, President Aquino suppresses international inquiry”

  1. I guess that’s one thing the Philippines contributes to the rest of the world: How NOT to run a Justice system and a reminder to all other countries that they should never undercut their education budget or reduce its quality in any way.

    Its sad, but its a self-inflicted Hell by and for the people.

  2. The master of stupidity and arrogance acts again. A typical circumstance that leads to arrogance: when you’re wrong and you can’t face it.

  3. ..Columnists of the major dailies in PHL have been writing in the last three days about the country’s justice system, but all of them forgot some of the below classic:

    Q: What’ the difference between a lawyer and a boxing referee?
    A: A boxing referee doesn’t get paid more for a longer fight.
    Q: What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer?
    A: A bad lawyer makes your case drag on for years. A good lawyer makes it last even longer.
    Q: How many lawyer jokes are there?
    A: Only three. The rest are true stories.
    Q: What do dinosaurs and decent lawyers have in common?
    A: They’re both extinct
    Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a herd of buffalo?
    A: The lawyer charges more.
    Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a prostitute?
    A: A prostitute will stop screwing you when you’re dead.
    Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a vulture?
    A: The lawyer gets frequent flyer miles.
    Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 100?
    A: Your Honor.
    Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 50
    A: Senator.
    Q: Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?
    A: Professional courtesy.
    Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a liar?
    A: The pronunciation.
    Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a gigolo?
    A: A gigolo only screws one person at a time.
    Q: What do you get when you cross the Godfather with a lawyer?
    A: An offer you can’t understand
    Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a liar?
    A: The pronunciation.
    Q: How many law professors does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: Hell, you need 250 just to lobby for the research grant.
    Q: Why do they bury lawyers under 20 feet of dirt?
    A: Because deep down, they’re really good people.
    Q: What do lawyers and sperm have in common?
    A: One in 3,000,000 has a chance of becoming a human being.

    And, why is the PHL justice (and political) system screwed up? Because above are not jokes.

    (If you want some more, just google: lawyer jokes)

  4. Q. Why does New York have all the lawyers and New Jersey all the toxic waste dumps?

    A. New Jersey got first pick.

    If powerful Aquino is so afraid of a few journalists, we need to change his moniker from BullShit Aquino to ChickenShit Aquino.

  5. Justice system in our country moves in a snail pace. There are many murders that remained unsolved; because of political reasons.

    The Dacer-Corbito murder case. It remains unsolved, because the Prime murder suspect, Ping Lacson and his accomplishes, are cahoots of Aquino. Lacson is even given a good job by Aquino.

    The Hacienda Luisita massacre. The tenants/serfs of Aquino were mercilessly murdered by gunmen, ordered by Aquino, himself. Up to now, there is no investigation and no case.

    The Maguindanao massacre. The Ampatuans, who are the murderers of the Journalists, and other people. They are not in jail; and are allied politically to Aquino. They roam freely; and the witnesses are murdered one by one…

    1. Datu Toto Mangudadatu, whose wife and supporters were abducted and brutally murdered by Ampatuan henchmen, is a Liberal party member and a supporter of PNoy to this day.
      The principals accused in the Maguindanao massacre namely: Datu Zaldy, Andal Jr. & Datu Andal Sr. were stalwarts of the Lakas-Kampi CMD and relied on by GMA during her incumbency to deliver votes for her in the ARMM. All three Ampatuans are still in jail.
      Legal shenanigans and corrupt state prosecutors are to blame for the absence of speedy trial and resolution of the case.

  6. What’s my take on all of these? Well, all will be solved after another 500 or 1,000 years. By that time, all of those culprits of every crime in the Failippines, are long dead and gone. It will all be just in the history books of that generation.

  7. It is widely reported that the Amputuan’s are not even in their jail cells most of the time, nor the ‘Li’l Girl’ in her hospital room.
    The Philippine Republic is a joke, a bad one, when it comes to any sort of criminal justice system.
    The punk-ass pussy of a President restricts entry into the country of people who razz him in public a little? That is not how a democracy works, free speech/opinion is accepted as a right, not something to be punished for.(As long as you are not yelling ‘FIRE’ in a crowded movie theatre). The people of the country have every reason to be ashamed of their leaders and maybe even themselves for putting up with such shit-heads as well as such a lack of justice for victims of violent crimes.
    The Maguindanao Massacre is a case that should have seen convictions at least three years ago, and is a disgrace to any country that calls itself a ‘Republic’.
    The country is indeed a laughingstock.

    1. Right, Li’l Girl was always in “phased out” mode that is why Amal Allamudin wants to try to give her a legal boost because after almost 5 years in her hospital cell, no graft and corruption cases prospered in court against her. This country is going to the yellow, the inept, and the mediocre.

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