MANILA – The justice system needs to be fixed to prevent the extrajudicial shortcuts detailed in Sen. Leila de Lima’s first privilege speech, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Tuesday.
Interpellating Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who responded to de Lima’s speech with a speech of his own, Pangilinan proposed “better ways” and a “strategic direction” in addressing the spate of killings.
To create a “modern, efficient, and effective justice system that addresses drugs, smuggling, corruption, and other crimes,” he said there is a need to reduce the six-year shelf life of criminal cases, and to fill up the 40 percent vacancy in the number of prosecution lawyers and the 25 percent vacancy in courts, among others.
These and other gaps in the system contribute to a slow legal process that cause frustration among the public and accepting of these killings, he said.
Pangilinan, current vice chairperson of the Senate justice committee, asked Cayetano to deliver his proposal to President Duterte to convene the Joint Judiciary, Executive, Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JJELACC) to help strengthen the rule of law and the justice system.
He noted how the convening of the JJELACC resulted in a 20-percent increase in the budget of the judiciary from 0.8 percent to 1 percent of the total budget.
He also said that there has been a 100-percent increase in the conviction rate in corruption cases from 15 percent to a little over 30 percent.
“I think, strategically, if we address the vacancies in our prosecution service, if we address the vacancies in our justice system, in our judiciary, if we address the unacceptable average of 6 years in terms of a case life in the first level courts and work in the next 6 years towards reducing all that, then we will have a system of justice that will be swift, efficient, that will punish the guilty and that will acquit the innocent and I think the shortcuts will be a thing of the past and respect for the rule of law– not out of fear per se, but out of realizing and trusting that the system of justice is finally working and the guilty are finally punished and the innocent will always have their day in court,” Pangilinan said.
Increasing the budget of the judiciary and the Department of Justice to stamp our crime in the next six years should make for swift justice that will not only instill fear but also respect for law.
“Pag mas marami na pong napaparusahan, e talagang mas magkakaroon ng takot sa ating mga batas at respeto,” Pangilinan ended.