Using the judiciary
SOME police officers have used this a number of times before against target personalities: serve the warrant of arrest on a Friday, preferably late in the afternoon when the courts are about to close shop, and gleefully detain the target personalities who could not process the bail. That the National Bureau of Investigation is using this maneuver against Rappler’s Maria Ressa is not therefore unprecedented.
Ressa is the chief executive officer of Rappler, an online news site whose no nonsense coverage of the Duterte administration peeved the President himself. She is facing other cases filed by the Department of Justice, which prove that the government is really after her and Rappler. Ressa’s momentary jailing, therefore, wasn’t t unintentional.
A judge issued the warrant of arrest against Ressa for an absurd cyberlibel case. The act that prompted the filing of the case was done before the law from which it is based was enacted. Can a law be retroactive. Because it involved Ressa the justice department claimed it can be retroactive and the judge concurred.
Time was when the allegiance of the judiciary was to the law. That was in the period between the Marcos dictatorship until its ouster in 1986 and the current administration. Now, the judiciary is torn. Some of its members ( I would like to believe they are the majority) still has allegiance to the law while the rest are divided. The allegiance of one part is to the administration because they like it while the allegiance of the other part is also to the government because they fear it.
This was the same setup in the judiciary during the Marcos regime although those whose allegiance is to the law are probably fewer then than now. The setup then was symbolized by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court carrying an umbrella for the then first lady Imelda Marcos.
Like, who would believe that the cases filed against Sen. Leila de Lima are legit? The same goes for the case filed by the Marcos government against a former senator, the late Benigno Aquino Jr.? And can a law be retroactive? Apparently a part of the judiciary now believes in such absurdity.
It’s good to mention it nowadays because February is the month when we recall the triumphant struggle against the Marcos dictatorship that led to its ouster. Remember the February 1986 Edsa People Power uprising? A part of the population apparently does not want to remember that because that uprising that was hailed by peoples worldwide was the triumph of the “dilawan. “
Edsa 1 ushered in that period when the judiciary’s allegiance to the law was relatively full again. The Supreme Court got respected again and, except for some minor flaws, the judiciary’s image as an independent branch of the government got restored. Apparently that setup was not long lasting.
There is now an erosion of faith in the judiciary. Ressa calls this situation “weaponizing of the law, “which to me is not an apt description. The law is still the law. It is rather the interpreters of the law who can be put to task on this one.