Is the "murder" of a Filipino really beyond compromise?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - October 22, 2014 - 12:00am

The death of any Filipino in the hands of any perpetrator of murder, whether Filipino or American, should never be subject to any settlement or compromise. That is the law and that is also my personal belief.  In the first place, criminal cases cannot be, and should not be compromised. That is the principle. The alleged murder of Jeffrey Laude aka Jennifer should never end in an amicable settlement, no matter how much is the consideration. In fact, the family of Jennifer could not be as emphatic when they said: This is not about money. This is about a cry for justice.   All these statements are sound, valid, and only proper.

But when the rubber hits the road, so to say, or when the cookie crumbles, all these bold and unequivocal words may soften as time heals the wounds of anguish and pains. I heard these words many times before and I myself did witness how, at the end of the day, the antagonists would be led to the negotiation table, and consider the options dispassionately and in more practical terms. There is nothing wrong for mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, and the whole clan to fight in matters of principle. But who shall foot the bill? Who shall pay the lawyers? Who shall finance a long and perilous journey in quest for the truth and justice?

The police, prosecutors, and even the courts should act with utmost urgency. But when told to go slow or altogether back off because of higher considerations of national security, then the bureaucrats, the government functionaries have no option but to follow the unity of command. We are not saying that we should waive the inherent judicial power to assume jurisdiction over a crime committed within our national territory. Far from that. We are not suggesting that we sacrifice the administration of justice so as not to court the ire of a global power like the USA.  The murder of Jennifer must be tried in a court of law and let the ax fall on whoever the evidence points to. But would stronger forces not intervene?

As of today, while passions are high and multiple emotions of anger, outrage, and antagonism are on the brink of collisions, we hear  a lot of brave and angry words. But over time, when people get tired of shouting denunciations, and people are sick, hopeless and hungry, then the possibility of compromise may open itself as a window of new options. ln 2005, the whole nation denounced the alleged rape of a girl called Nicole allegedly  by one Corporal Lance Daniel Smith. People were angry and they dared said the final word that the case should not be compromised. But we all know that Nicole later on recanted her testimonies. And Smith went scot free.

We do not wish to prejudge the case of Jennifer and the ultimate fate of Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton. But if we go by precedents, we believe and so hold that there can be a way that the Philippine government and the family of Jennifer, as well as the US government later find a diplomatic solution to this problem. It does not sound proper or plausible today. But there is a time for everything. It may yet be an idea whose time has not yet come. Yes, in principle, murders cannot be compromised. But in the realm of diplomacy, even world wars can end up in a truce, and ultimately in treaty of peace and amity. Money, we will deny it. Just like the ransom for the kidnapped Germans in Sulu. But the bottom line is: there is going to be a solution.

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