Justice delayed is justice denied! This is a serious problem as failure of the Philippine criminal justice system to deliver fast and efficient justice has inevitably led to the erosion of public trust in the government.
On allegations that she used ‘drug money’ for her senatorial campaign in 2016 when she was Justice secretary, former Sen. Leila de Lima had been in jail since 2017. Human rights groups believe the drug charges against Senator de Lima were fabricated to silence her for investigating the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.
Previous to these developments, de Lima, as chairperson of the Commission of Human Rights (2008-2010), had led the investigation of the bloody war on drugs in Davao City.
The detained former Senator was so far acquitted in two of the three drug cases against her. The third one is pending at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. After six years, eight months, and 21 days, de Lima was granted a provisional release after posting ₱300,000 in bail for the remaining drug case. The order was signed by Presiding Judge Gener M. Gito of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 206.
If this long detention happened to an elected Philippine Senator over alleged fabricated charges, it can happen to anyone! How many more detainees are incarcerated for long years before their cases are resolved?
A closer look should be made on the Philippine criminal justice system which is made up of five “pillars”:
Law Enforcement. This pillar involves officers and personnel from agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation They are responsible for enforcing laws, apprehending offenders, and maintaining public safety;
Prosecution. The prosecution evaluates the background of individuals arrested for violating the law. They decide whether to proceed with criminal charges based on evidence and legal considerations;
Court System. The courts form the cornerstone of the system. They determine the guilt or innocence of individuals charged with criminal offenses. Legal proceedings, trials, and appeals take place within this framework;
Corrections. After conviction, the corrections system comes into play. It involves rehabilitation, confinement, and reintegration. Offenders serve their sentences in jails or prisons, aiming to reform and reintegrate them as law-abiding citizens;
Community Involvement. The mobilized community plays a vital role. It includes citizens, organizations, and community leaders who contribute to crime prevention, rehabilitation efforts, and maintaining social order.
Justice is a fundamental right for all individuals, regardless of their circumstances. At present, the criminal justice system is an overwhelmed machinery that has not been able to keep pace with growing rates of population, urbanization, and criminality.
Not a few view the imprisonment of Senator de Lima as politically-motivated since she had investigated reports of human rights violations by government.
Liberal Party President and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman stated: “Although justice delayed is justice denied, justice finally secured is still justice redeemed. This is the essence of Sen. Leila de Lima’s belated grant of bail which is a prelude to her exoneration in all of the three feigned drug charges against her.”
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