We express our serious concern over the spate of extra-judicial killings, which to us does not signify justice, but indicates a breakdown in law and order.
We know that the Philippine criminal justice system can be oppressively slow and unjust. We understand the weight of wrongful prosecution, expensive lawyers, and erroneous judgments. Under similar instances in 2007, we have tried to reform the system and address the gaps in the lack of judges, prosecutors, and public defenders. We have raised their salaries and improved their benefits. We have raised the judiciary’s budget.
We have done these to raise the conviction rates of our courts, reduce the average case life, and ensure swift disposition of cases. In short, to punish more and punish swiftly. We have done these toward ensuring respect and obedience for the rule of law.
Clearly, these have not been enough. The system can still be unjust. But is killing suspected criminals just? Again, clearly, no.
Killing of suspected criminals is criminal. It is unjust. It is anti-poor. It is anti-poor because it has been the poor and powerless who have are victims of these extra-judicial killings. It is anti-life.
In his inaugural address, President Duterte said his “adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising.” We hold him to that statement and call for the convening of the Joint Judiciary Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JJELACC), which we proposed as Senate Majority Leader and Judicial and Bar Council representative in 2007 and which subsequently convened twice.
This led to the P3-billion additional budget for the judiciary. The increase from P10 billion in 2008 to P13 billion in 2009 caused the computerization of courts and the filling up of 20% of vacancies in the 2,500 courts nationwide.
We have done it before. We can again work together to strengthen the administration of justice and speed up the disposition of cases. JJELACC can again serve as the strategic response to criminality and disregard for the rule of law.
Let us build a fairer, more effective judicial system. Let us make the tools of justice, such as information of rights and laws, more affordable and accessible.
Every injustice, every extra-judicial killing diminishes us. The JJELACC can be instrumental in putting an end to these needless, undue deaths.