Us­ing the ju­di­ciary

Sun.Star Pampanga - - STORIES! -

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.


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