COMMENT: Justice denied – The double standards of law enforcement in Philippines

·Contributor
·3 min read
Themis, the Greek goddess of justice, wears an anti-riot helmet while raising the scales of justice with her left hand and holding the sword of justice with the other with a blurred shot of a tactical anti-riot police squad in the background. (Photo: Getty Images)
Themis, the Greek goddess of justice, wears an anti-riot helmet while raising the scales of justice with her left hand and holding the sword of justice with the other with a blurred shot of a tactical anti-riot police squad in the background. (Photo: Getty Images)

The incredibly double standards of justice and law enforcement feeds, and breeds, the culture of impunity and lawlessness in the Philippines.

If one is to paint a portrait of the current state of affairs in the country today, nothing could capture it more than these two scenarios.

Scenario one

A rich young boy, riding his parents’ SUV, rummaged through a security guard moments after the guard approached him. When he surrendered to the police, he and his rich parents were given media mileage by no less than the officer-in-charge of the police department, giving him and his family a platform not everyone gets to have after getting caught committing a crime.

And because he did not have enough jack to deal with the situation himself, he lets his mother and father take the wheel of defending him and his character – that the whole fiasco was “just an accident. Nobody wants to abandon [the victim], he was rattled,” the mother said, then went on saying that his son is a very responsible man. As to what their definition of a responsible man is, only them and their God know.

Criminal law experts believe that right there and then, the police need not wait and arrest him right away on “hot pursuit” grounds, but alas, they didn’t do that, and instead launched a series of warnings in front of the television and the media, and then after the meeting, saying that the case is now closed since the suspect and his family had already coordinated with the police.

Scenario Two

On the eve of the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, peasants who have been for the longest time tilling the land and making it productive in Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac, together will their supports and advocates who support their fight for genuine land reform, were holding a bungkalan (collective farming) one morning of Thursday, June 9.

The weather and mood is as idyllic as the dew in that early morning, when all of a sudden, police forces forced themselves into the community, violently dispersed what is otherwise a peaceful gathering, branding them as communists and members of the New Peoples’ Army.

All 93 participants, including the farmers themselves from Malayang Kilusang Samahan ng Magsasaka ng Tinang (MAKISAMA–Tinang), were arrested and deliberately held for days. The bail set for them was over a million pesos. While they gained their temporary freedom, the case is very much active and those that were temporarily freed are obliged to attend court hearings.

Where else in the world, for example, could an environmental defender—the very people who are committed to fighting for environmental justice—be branded as communist on the basis of their lifetime activism for the country’s environment, and arrested without a warrant?

What does justice look like in the Philippines if those that are sworn in to defend and protect the Constitution and the rule of law are the same ones who are unapologetic when breaking it? We need not look farther than our own president—the outgoing bloodthirsty, murderous leader who justified his killings in the name of public good and safety (which, after six years, did not really materialize in the first place).

But in due time, the people, strengthened and empowered, will be the one to seek for truth and justice in all of these. And without an iota of doubt, the judgment and punishment to those who instigate, and were complicit about, it will be harsh, but justified; violent, but rightly so.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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