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Is justice for sale in the Philippines?

Noel Navales, Antipolo City: Philippine justice is very much for sale. That’s why the President took the job as top drug buster. She can project that incorruptible image. Get it?

Josh Pacatang, Dipolog City: Have you tried buying it? Why don’t we ask ourselves what we are willing to do for our country, rather than what our country can do for us?

I still believe in our Courts

Leandro Tolentino, Batangas City: Although investigative news reports tend to show that justice can be bought, especially on TROs and electoral cases, I still believe in our courts.

Ed Piano, Olongapo City: It’s really unfortunate, but yes, justice is for sale in our country. There’s no doubt about that. The Chief Justice’s call for moral leadership should first be addressed right in his turf.

There are just bad eggs in the judiciary

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C.B. Manalastas, Manila: The majority of our justices are straight men, but like any other branch of government, there are also some bad eggs in the judiciary that offer to fix cases.

I. Calata, Parañaque City: I shudder to think that the general thinking of most people is that justice is for sale in the Philippines, as if it were some common commodity. There may be some instances where, as a former President put it, there are rogues in robe, but I sincerely believe these are the exceptions rather than the rule, like scalawags in uniform or cheats in business or point-shavers in basketball.

Imee Aglibot, Rizal: Yes, justice in RP is for sale, but, unlike in basic trade, the law of supply and demand doesn’t apply here. In this business, the higher the supply, the higher the demand. But thanks to Lady Justice, despite the blindfold, she’s still trying hard to hold the balance. Thanks, also, to the righteous ones who don’ succumb to any bid or price and who still choose to apply justice where it’s due.

Rey Ibalan, Antipolo City: Our justice system is still strong, but this is badly eroded by some crooks that are wholesalers and retailers of justice.

Lydia Reyes, Bataan: I’ve proven it myself. Justice is for sale in my beloved country. Although judges are unaware, there are some of their compadres in the court who put it up for sale.

If the price is right

June Deoferio, Cavite: Yes, that is if the price is right. Only the rich can afford to buy their freedom. No money, no justice.

Rodolfo Talledo, Angeles City: Yes it is, especially when it comes to some high-profile cases where protagonists have much to offer.

Armando Tavera, Las Piñas City: In some cases, yes. It’s either, “name the price” or “if the price is right”.

Ricardo Tolentino, Laoag City: Yes, many court decisions are under suspicion of being bought. How can judges explain cases that are dismissed on mere technicalities?

Pedro Alagano Jr., Vigan City: For those who have experienced the derailed fruit of justice in this country, it’s for sale. That’s the true picture; it just depends on how much.

Gerry del Cano, Muntinlupa City: Yes, if the price is right, then it’s already a done deal before the hearing begins.

John Dominic Romero, Metro Manila: It would be a great lie if people say that justice isn’t for sale here in the Philippines. Ika nga, only in the Philippines.

Jim Veneracion, Naga City: The dispensers of justice have long affirmed the answer to this question. We now have “fixcals” and “hoodlums in robes” that prescribe the price of justice.

Ella Arenas, Pangasinan: Maybe yes and maybe no. Coined by Pres. Erap, the expression “hoodlums in robe” has a basis. Maybe if the price is right, why not?

Money, power and connections rule

William Gonzaga, Marikina City: Justice is for sale, indeed, as the rich and powerful can practically get away with even murder, if not for the vigilance of media which usually pricks public outrage to express vehement opposition to such wanton violation of human rights of the poor and weak. Even when death penalty is in place, the rich can easily evade its imposition with the aid of expensive lawyers and generosity to all that matter.

Ed Gulmatico, Middle East: Yes, it is. This is the reality in our country. Situations throughout the country show that if you are a poor and underprivileged litigant, you are doomed! If you are a poor complainant against a rich and powerful person, you are still doomed to despair. And why does it take a very long time for a case to be resolved. Since money, power and connections are still the deciding factor, justice is for sale in the Philippines.

D. Lazaro, Metro Manila: Yes, justice is for sale in the Philippines. Being aware of this naked truth, everyone will just have to be vigilant and persevering so as not to fall prey.

Digoy Coro, Batangas: Yes, sometimes, that is, if you have the nerve, influence and, of course, a lot of money.

Marben Barrera, Maasin City: Without the benefit of any doubt, yes.

Jojo Ocampo, Puerto Princesa: Without a doubt, I know that justice is for sale in the Philippines. I’ve bought it myself and some more for a few friends.

Rey Onate, Palayan City: If you have lots of money you can hire good lawyers who will really find ways and reasons to make our justice system work in your favor.

Eduardo Lozano, Quezon City: Yes, justice is for sale in our country. It depends on the circumstances, the amount and the people involved.

Eddie Yap, Kabankalan City: Painful as it is to admit, it’s obvious that justice is now for sale in the Philippines. Filipinos must ponder deeply on this ailment that is absolutely deleterious to the image and moral conscience of our country. I say again, Filipinos must unite and stand firm to assert their conviction and not to deviate from what is right and proper. Yes, it’s easier said than done. Still and all, it is always the moneyed, the influential, the powerful, and the favored that get the upper hand in any legal battle. One practical way is to steer away from any legal tussles because “no money is no victory” in this country of ours. 

Edwin Castillo, Tanauan City: If you are rich and powerful and the court is corrupt, you can buy a decision in your favor. Attorney and money come together in a legal court battle.

Nick Ocampo, Angeles City: In our present time, it seems that justice is for sale in our country.

Not all the time

Rose Leobrera, Manila: Not all the time; otherwise, no Teehankee, Sanchez, Maguan, Jalosjos, Webb, Leviste, et al. would be in jail today. What can be bought is life inside the cell so that these jailbirds do not languish behind bars, but still live comfortably. Since they are moneyed, they are highly regarded by their kakosa. Poor inmates are packed in cells like sardines, but they, the rich and famous, enjoy amenities. I wonder what happened to the case of that rich guy who headed a cult. Has justice been served? Just asking.

Erwin Espinosa, Pangasinan: Not all the time; there are only a few hoodlums in robe. That includes a few fiscals and police officers, too.

Sahlee Reyes, Las Piñas City: Judging from the many criminal cases involving suspects from high society that have been unceremoniously dismissed or decriminalized by the court handling it without the proper legalities, it is quite abnormal not to think that some manipulation happens between the defendant and the judicature. Obviously, money changes hands. Pinapatay na ang kaso even before it could reach the higher courts. This unpopular practice goes unabated because it has been an underlying belief that justice is really for sale in our country. There are exceptions to this phenomenon, though. I believe there are still soldiers of law that possess integrity and refuse to abnegate their right to serve fair justice to those that rightly deserve it. Chief Justice Puno is one good example.

Everything is for sale

Gil Balobalo, Laguna: It’s not just justice. Lahat may katapat na halaga, kahit kaluluwa.

J.R. Mondonedo Jr., Parañaque City: Yes, justice is for sale here in the Philippines, just like women and drugs.

Vic Alim, Caloocan City: If honoris causa degrees from universities run by Catholic priests are given in exchange for known dirty money veiled as donations, justice should be for sale.

It has been so for a long time now

Diony Yap, Bacolod City: Matagal na. Since time immemorial ika nga. Remember countless sea tragedies due to overloading? May nakasuhan na ba na ship owner or kapitan? Saan?

Manuel Abejero, Pangasinan: Those involved and charged in the Naguilian shabu laboratory case were acquitted in spite of the volume of evidence. Nakapagtataka, ‘di ba? It was the case of some parties not being able to get their rightful share. ABS-CBN has a complete video of a judge in Pampanga caught in the act. There may be more, but I believe some cases, especially those that are considered high-value crimes, are usually settled out of court.

Ed Alawi, Davao City: I believe it’s for sale. How else can those people caught in illegal drugs, smuggling, jueteng, etc. be easily freed by prosecutors?

Gerii Calupitan, Muntinlupa City: Justice is for sale not only in RP, but we are in the top 10! My barkada filed a bigamy case versus his ex-wife but his lawyer Atty. Laglag sold out his case. Our own legal counsel, who now faces disbarment filed by our administrator, fixed even our inheritance case. The justice system has flaws. My late dad assisted in a widow’s murdered husband’s case gratis et amore. She sold out her case for P55,000. Inareglo na lang daw, the court employee told him. Even during Martial Law, only small fish were fried; the big ones swim freely up to now.

It’s common knowledge

Mario Tejada, Ilocos Norte: Every lawyer who is not a hypocrite would admit that justice is for sale in the Philippines. How many times in intimate conversations have I heard a lawyer say, “If your case is raffled to this judge, you better review your laws. If it is raffled to anybody else, you better tell your client to prepare his purse.”

Fortunato Aguirre, Bulacan: Yes, it’s common knowledge and you can even buy it wholesale. For three VIPs (read: very important punks), the price is as high as P50 million. Yes, our DOJ is truly odious.

Delfin Todcor, Mt. Province: It is a common knowledge that justice is obtained by paying the right amount. There is also collusion among some judges, prosecutors, and lawyers.

There’s just too much corruption

Jose Fabello Jr., Cagayan de Oro City: Unabated corruption makes justice for sale.

Felix Ramento, Manila: The dispensation of justice in the Philippines is in a sorry state because of the people in official positions who have evolved into what are now known as “hoodlums in robes” and “fix-cals.”

Renato Taylan, Ilocos Norte: At the right price, yes. “Fix-cals” are on the take, dismissing cases on the pretext of yawning technicalities.

Johann Lucas, Quezon City: Yes, with allegations of graft and corruption in the judiciary, it looks like justice, as a matter of policy, is more likely to go to the highest bidder.

Cris Rivera, Rizal: The way things are going, it seems to be the case, all because of corrupt lawyers and government officials whose principles are under the soles of their feet.

Dennis Acop, Baguio City: There are always two sides to a coin. I know as most of us do that justice is not always for sale in this country, but sometimes it is. Just ask those who have personally experienced it. I wish we could have a survey to answer this question among citizens who have had to contend with our justice system for one reason or another. However, I think that there are certain realities at work in our administration of justice in this country that make it vulnerable. First, Philippine justice takes too long. There is some truth to the saying that “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Second, government law enforcers, prosecutors, judges, and jailers are poorly paid. Third, the fifth pillar of the criminal justice system, which is the citizenry, is too scared to contribute as witness. Fourth, our investigative tools to prove guilt or innocence are still too crude to evidently contribute beyond reasonable doubt. Fifth, poor government pay and other disadvantages can hardly attract the best investigators or lawyers from the private sector. Finally, whether we like it or not, there is institutionalized corruption in our systems. Those with personal experience know this only too well.

Justice delayed is justice denied

Robert Young Jr., San Juan: Justice must be for sale in the Philippines. How else can you explain drug lords being released without investigation or wealthy criminals getting away with criminal activities? Also, there are voluminous TROs that should not have been granted. Thousands of poor suspects languish in jail for years, because they cannot afford to hire lawyers. It takes decades for the NLRC and other courts to decide on a case. Even the CA and Supreme Court have been suspected to have been influenced.

Col. Ben Paguirigan Jr., Ret., Zamboanga City: If the volume of court cases at all levels, most of which belong to poor litigants, that are gathering dust is an indication, I would say yes, justice is for sale in our country. Justi-is.

Not one for sweeping declarations

Manny Cordeta, Marikina City: Frankly, the query seems to aver outright that the Philippines, being ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in Southeast Asia, can only expect a rotten justice system, nothing less. My gut feel says there’s a snowball of opinions acting in unison along this mindset that justice in our country is one prized “merchandise” that deserves a second look, especially if the price is right. Sorry folks, I am not one who has a passion for generalities and I don’t indulge in the reckless issuing of baseless and sweeping declarations. In fairness, I just think the barristers out there still have their sense of dignity coupled with competence and impartiality. The regional trial courts have been doing their “homework” with dispatch. The Supreme Court remains to be the last bulwark of democracy. It just has to be firm and resolute. Most importantly, it has to be independent, not allowing political kibitzers and other entities even a moment of intrusion and chance for haggling lest they be bought.  

Rico Fabello, Parañaque City:I really wouldn’t know. I haven’t bought it; I have no plan of buying it either.

Lady Justice is not blindfolded

Eufrocino Linsangan, Isabela: I didn’t believe it before, but from what I hear, read and see, I can only agree. In this country, the lady that symbolizes justice is not blindfolded.

Chris Navarro, Las Piñas City: In most cases, yes.

Justice is for the rich

Germi Sison, Cabanatuan City: That justice is for sale is true, but not so rampant. However, our judicial system is somehow designed for the rich and the influential. Wealthy litigants can get smart, expensive lawyers to win cases against poor opponents who can at best hire only so-so lawyers. That is not justice for sale but just the same, money talks. Those in power can easily draw support from VIPs that can influence court decisions. One of the flaws in our judicial system is the confrontational and antagonistic approach to justice that puts poor litigants at a disadvantage. It could be in the system, where justice is misconstrued as being sold or decided under duress, but not outright for sale.

Ian Roy Gerna, Borongan City: Absolutely. Justice in our country is just for people who can afford to buy biased judgment. It may be in the millions, for as long as they get what they want.

Bob Morales, Oroquieta City: Yes, Virginia, justice is for sale in our country. Look at our jails; only the poor are there. The big criminals are called “honorable”.

Love of money is the root of all evil

Felmar Rowell Singco, Northern Samar: One needs only observe the many fees demanded by government agencies and the high costs of litigation in our country to surmise that justice is for sale here. If only lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and government officials would understand and heed these words from the Holy Bible, then they will truly understand the true concept of justice, judgment, and money: “A wicked man taketh a gift (bribe) out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment” (Proverbs 17:23); and “Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift (bribe): for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16:19). Verily, the love of money is the root of all evil in this country, from the President herself down to the municipal officials.

I hope not

Marlone Ramirez, Dubai: The famous US President George Washington said, “The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.” I hope justice is not for sale in the Philippines because this will lead to the disintegration of government. We need to do something to change the image of the justice system in the country and make it more credible to Filipinos. Indeed, it would be very alarming if citizens resort to violence rather than subscribing to the rule of law.

Views expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The STAR. The STAR does not knowingly publish false information and may not be held liable for the views of readers exercising their right to free expression. The publication also reserves the right to edit contributions to this section as it sees fit.

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