Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Widening gap of justice, abuse of presidential pardons, & the poor who are left in jail

March 20, 2009

It has been said that about 3 out of 4 prisoners in the Philippines are victims of judicial errors Many of them are poor and vulnerable. They are forced to admit guilt so that they can move to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) where food and living conditions are better than the crowded jails in the country. Poor prisoners in other penal colonies languish longer and are treated badly during incarceration than their rich counterparts, making the public believe justice in the country is a farce.

“Inmates are dying in our city jails at an alarming rate. They are suffering from boils, tuberculosis, chicken pox and other simple but highly communicable diseases. In the Quezon City Jail alone, there are two to five deaths per month. The sad fact is that they are dying before being sentenced.” —Raymond Narag (ex-prisoner)

The widening gap of justice truly exists in the country, but almost no one complains about it. In this backdrop Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo commuted the two life terms of Romeo Jalosjos for raping an 11 year old girl in 1996. For his horrible crime which include lascivious acts, the Zamboanga del Norte congressman who shows no remose, enjoyed extensive prison privileges while in jail for only 13 years. Jalosjos put his money and influence to full use—-building a tennis court, a gym, and bakery in the NBP.

These “benevolent actions” by Jalosjos which led to the shortening of his prison stay can’t escape the scrutiny of Emmi de Jesus, secretary-general of the militant women-group Gabriela, who sees gross errors in how justice is carried out. De Jesus who believes Jalosjos’ pardon is a payback to the political help given to Pres. Arroyo said:

“Marso ngayon ano, supposedly Buwan ng Kababaihan. Mukhang ito yung mockery of justice na binibigay ni Ginang Arroyo. Walang remorse, walang pag-amin sa kasalanan niya (Jalojos). Paano na yung mga kababaihan na humihingi ng katarungan na ngayon ay vulnerable sa various forms of violence?” .

[Jalosjos’ release, which happens this Women’s Month, seemed to be a mockery of justice by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. (Convicted rapist) neither showed remorse nor admission of guilt. What about the welfare of the women who are vulnerable to various forms of violence?]—GMA TV News (03/19/09, Dedace, SM)

Quezon Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III is alarmed by President Arroyo‘s exercise of presidential clemency which leads to more rich and powerful inmates being set free. Palawan Representative Abraham Mitra also airs the same concern when he urged Arroyo to use executive pardon “judiciously and carefully.”

But politics and favor-peddling have a lot to do with these kinds of decision. It is easy to understand that a prisoner who donates infrastructures in a prison compound may have motives beyond being altruistic. Special treatment is one thing that rich detainees can work on so they get protection from their friends in the system. It’s one of the easiest ways to cultivate influence and get the graces of prison officials.

After a tedious and costly court battle that eventually convicted Pres. Joseph Estrada of plunder, Arroyo wasted no time in pardoning the felon—a decision that continues to divide and hurt the entire nation. Estrada didn’t serve in a traditional jail, but in a well-furnished comfortable seclusion.

In total disregard of the gravity of the crime and the unresolved questions related to the Ninoy Aquino-Rolando double murder case, Gloria freed the 10 remaining military men convicted of the airport murders. Since 1983, few Filipinos took genuine heart on the significance of Ninoy’s death, ignoring the loss and suffering of the country under Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. Like Jalosjos and Estrada, the 10 convicts in Ninoy’s assassination never expressed guilt or remorse— basic requisites of pardon.

Mostly left in the crowded prisons are the poor and those who have no influence in lording over the weaknesses of the corrupt system. Many are young and defenseless. Filipinos who disdain the unpopular president can only express their cynicism and apathy towards the poor state of the penitentiary. They feel they can’t do anything about the injustice that goes on there. (Phtoto Credit: Suntoksabuwan; planetradio x 2) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “90% of RP crimes are solved in less than 1 year: a lie that can make you cry?” Posted by mesiamd at 12/19/2008; “Pardon and (In)justice: Ninoy’s killers freed” Posted by mesiamd at 3/05/2009


Ponzi wiz Bernard Madoff sent to prison

March 13, 2009

It’s a little bit like seeing the devil,” said Burt Ross, a lawyer from Englewood, NJ who lost $5 million in Madoff’s swindle. Feeling betrayed, DeWitt Baker, an investor who lost more than $1 million angrily fumed “I’d stone him to death.” —-AP (03.12/09, Neusmeister, L; Hays, T)

Bernard Madoff, the personification of Wall Street greed and reckless extravagance has admitted guilt of pulling the biggest Ponzi scam in history. In the Federal Court of Manhattan, in New York, US district judge Denny Chin revoked Madoff’s $10 million bail and ordered the disgraced swindler’s confinement to a windowless room at the Metropolitan Correction Center instead of being comfortably holed in his lavish $7 million home at 133 E, 64th Street.

For defrauding his clients of $65 billion, at sentencing date in June this year, the former chairman of Nasdaq could get a life sentence—a maximum of 150 years in jail for perjury and financial fraud.

Without implicating anyone except himself, the apologetic Madoff who gave no comfort to his victims, pleaded guilty in all counts of fraud. In doing so, many believed his acceptance of full responsibility was a way to protect his wife Ruth, his family, and friends. His victims were fuming mad. Wall Street regulators ignored the flags of deception which allowed the once respected investment guru to operate without being caught for decades.

Thousands of defrauded clients in the United States and abroad include banks, charities, financial institutions, pension funds, retirees, and private individuals whose life savings and investments have been damaged. In their ranks are those who have suffered irreparable financial ruin with no chance to recover. At least one victim has been driven into committing suicide.

Some of Madoff’s Victims
Fairfield Greenwich Advisors—–investment firm————–$7,500,000,000
Banco Santander——————Spanish bank—————–$2,870,000,000
Bank Medici————————-Austrian bank—————-$2,100,000,000
HSBC——————————— British bank——————-$1,000,000,000
BNP————————————French bank——————-$431,170,000
New York University——————University——————–$24,000,000
Korea Teachers Pension———-Korean Pension Fund———$9,100,000
Marc Rich——————————fugitive financier————–Not available
Yeshiva University———————NY private university——–$14,500,000
Int’l Olympic Committee————–Olympic organizer———-$4,800,000
Zsa Zsa Gabor————————-actress————————$10,000,000
Diocese of St. Thomas—————Cath. Church (Virgin Is)—–$2,000,000

The imprisonment of Madoff is just the tip of the iceberg to the massive scandal that rocks Wall Street. Trust in the financial institutions is at an all time low. Many Americans adversely affected by the economic meltdown are demanding for accountability and prosecution of those responsible in the betrayal of trust. (Photo Credits: Acteon; Jason Smith) =0=


Iraqi shoe-thrower gets 3 years in jail

March 12, 2009

30 year old Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who rose to notoriety and fame for interrupting a Bush-Maliki conference in Baghdad in December 2008 has been sentenced to 3 years in jail on Thursday, March 12, 2009. He went on a shoe-throwing rampage which targeted, but missed visiting US president George W. Bush.

Swearing innocence to the charge of assault he said, “what I did was a natural response to the occupation,” referring to the US-led Iraq war against Saddam Hussein. For violating journalistic ethics and endangering the life of a dignitary, al Zeidi got the minimum sentence (max.15 years) to the charge which he can appeal. Upon hearing the sentence, some of al Zeidi’s relative’s fainted.

In a world where the boundary between right and wrong is often disputed, many in the Muslim world who laud the journalist’s action was disappointed with the verdict. Others who look at his misplaced display of anger and think of the assault as an immature tantrum think the sentence serves him right. =0=

The forgotten Reynaldo Galman & his disappeared mother Lina

March 6, 2009

Reynaldo Galman condemns the granting of executive clemency to the 10 imprisoned convicted killers who blame Rolando Galman, his father, as Ninoy’s murderer. Joining the the family of Ninoy Aquino, he decries the fact that the brains behind the Aquino-Galman murders on August 21, 1983 remain undisclosed. He believes his father tagged by the Marcoses as a communist killer is just a fall guy in the blatant plot to kill Ninoy Aquino.

Barely an adolescent when the gruesome murders took place in the airport, son Reynaldo Galman could only recall his ordeal after his father was killed. He was only 10 years old when mother Lina Galman was abducted by unidentified men, never to be seen again after the airport murders investigation began. With only a sketchy memory of his parents to keep, Reynaldo lived the life of an orphan.

After more than two decades, many of the principal players who could have shed light on the heinous incident have died. They refused to tell the truth until the memory of the Filipinos has faded. President Gloria M. Arroyo thinks it’s now the ripe time to set free the incarcerated killers in spite of the unresolved questions surrounding the case.

The 10 soldiers of the Aviation Security Command (AVSECOM) part of the team tasked to provide security to Ninoy have stuck to the official Marcos story which portrayed Rolando Galman of Nueva Ecija as the killer. They insist the “hitman” broke the cordon of their very tight security. But the Aquinos, the Galmans, and the majority of the Filipinos who followed the investigation don’t believe this.

The ugly tail of injustice wags mockingly on Reynaldo Galman who lost a father. Like the Aquinos and the rest of the aggrieved Filipinos, he is one among the victims who waged the People Power in revulsion to the tarmac murders and government corruption. Yet this isn’t enough to make Arroyo desist from favoring the convicted military men in her discretionary clemency. She probably doesn’t know Reynaldo Galman and the rest of the Filipinos have been affected by the murders. Her political nemesis, Pres. Cory Aquino, the widow of Ninoy, aged and ailing, is mum over the pardon.

As one can see, life isn’t fair even on Ninoy Aquino whose towering life could have changed the course of the country’s governance. For giving his life, the martyred Marcos rival has been admired, but it didn’t take long before people forget his sacrifice. A number of his friends have abandoned his cause. Politics have a way of leading leaders like Gloria Arroyo to choose the low road against certain individuals—like Aquino who till his death insisted that “Filipinos are worth dying for.”

There are people who lie without conscience, condone moral aberrancy, and inflict incalculable cruelty on others. In the guise of handing down social justice, they welcome public apathy and forgetfulness, so that no one bothers to question. Expediency and rationalization have been part of how politics work in the country. (Photo Credits: Hoy_Sushi; Britt01)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Pardon and (In)justice: Ninoy’s killers freed” Posted by mesiamd at 3/05/2009


Pardon and (In)justice: Ninoy’s killers freed

March 5, 2009

Those who followed the news of the grisly killing of Ninoy Aquino more than two decades ago couldn’t easily believe the freeing the 10 soldiers convicted of the assassination. They never imagined Pres. Gloria Arroyo, in her exercise of executive power pardoned the convicts just as easily as she pardoned Pres. Joseph Estrada of his ignominious crimes.

Released Convicts

ex-Capt. Romeo Bautista
former 2/Lt. Jesus Castro
ex Sgt Ruben Aquino,
ex Sgt Arnulfo de Mesa
ex Sgt Rodolfo Desolong
ex Sgt Arnulfo Artates
ex Sgt Claro Lat
ex Sgt Ernesto Mateo
ex Sgt Filomendo Miranda
ex Constable 1st Class Rogelio Moreno

There was no admission of guilt from the soldiers convicted of Ninoy’s fatal shooting on August 21, 1983 when he arrived in Manila after a three-year exile from United States. The soldiers beholden by military code of silence pointed to Rolando Galman, tagged by the Marcos dictatorship as the communist hitman out to kill Marcos’ chief political opponent. Though the mastermind of the crime was not known nor punished, Pres. Cory Aquino believed it was Marcos who was behind the murder. Upon learning of the pardon, the ailing Ninoy’s widow refused to comment.

Accusing Pres. Arroyo of “abuse of discretion,” Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Ninoy’s son, said “Society has an obligation to transmit a message that if you commit a crime, you must pay for it,..They haven’t owned up to their sin. Why were they freed when they have yet to ask for forgiveness?”

In a reaction, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said that the “sad reality about all this is that only the small fry have been made to suffer….Until the masterminds are known and punished for their dastardly deed, we will never have closure to this brutal murder case.”—Inquirer (03/05/09)

It was for “humanitarian reasons” that the executive clemency was given. Government officials were unmindful of the need to apply the law consistently so as to hammer the message of what crime and punishment must be. They are convinced the killers had suffered enough and they took it upon themselves to decide it’s time to set convicts free. In so doing, they have been dismissive of the injustice endured by the Aquino family, the Galman family, and the nation that Ninoy left behind. (Photo Credit: dead_mullen)=0=

Reynaldo Galman & his mother Lina

Reynaldo Galman, the son of Rolando (believed to be the fall-guy in the Aquino assasination) condemns the pardoning of the 10 convicted killers who continue to point to his father as Ninoy’s murderer. The brains of the Aquino-Galman murders remain unkonwn.

After more than two decades, many of the principal players who could have shed light on the heinous incident are either ailing or have died of natural causes. The 10 soldiers of the Aviation Security Command (AVSECOM) tasked to provide security to Ninoy have upheld the official Marcos story which pointed Rolando Galman as the killer. Many Filipinos think Galman was indeed a fall-guy to cover up for a greater conspiracy to kill.

Reynaldo Galman could only recall his suffering after he lost his father. His mom Lina Galman was abducted by unidentified men and disappeared without a trace soon after the airport murders. He lived as an orphan, became a nurse, then later worked in the Middle East. =0=


OJ Simpson’s guilt: "What goes around—-comes around?"

December 6, 2008

“What goes around— comes around.” This is what people of the street say upon hearing of OJ Simpson’s sentencing to serve jail time on December 5, 2008. Las Vegas’ Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass has sentenced him to at least
9 years to 33 years for his conviction in 12 criminal charges. These included assault of a deadly weapon, conspiracy, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

With the jail time, Simpson would be 70 before he’d be eligible for parole. But his lawyers planned an appeal. The former football star was obviously upset and emotional when he offered an apology, but many who watched the trial were relieved the sentence was handed in.

You went to the room, and you took guns,” Judge Glass told Simpson. “You used force. You took property, whether it was yours or somebody else’s. And in this state, that amounts to robbery, with use of a deadly weapon.”—AP (12/05/08, Ritter, K)

In 1994, Simpson was acquitted in a racially-charged jury of homicide involving his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Since then, OJ had been a symbol of dubious carriage of justice which divided citizens on how they regard the American legal system. Many people believed Simpson was guilty of the double murder case which was witnessed in TV and the news like a old time soap-opera (Photo Credit; AFP/ Pool/ Isaac Breeken)

RELATED BLOG: “OJ Simpson conviction: running out of luck and karma takes over?” Posted by mesiamd at 10/08/2008.

"Robbery” in Paranaque subdivision leaves 17 dead

December 5, 2008

One can’t help but be scared with the news that 17 people died in a shoot-out between police officers and alleged robbery gangs of Waray-Waray and Ozamis Group on December 5, 2008.

In the blood bath inside a residential area—the United Paranaque Subdivision, five (5) civilians, eleven (11) suspected thieves and one (1) policeman were killed. Among the dead was Alfonso de Vera, 53 and his 7 year old daughter Avanna.

According to witnesses, they were caught by gun fires from members of the police team as they pursued the suspected robbers. De Vera’s wife theorized that the police might have mistaken their van as one of the getaway vehicles.—PDI (12/05/08, Ramos, M.)

Pending thorough investigation no one for sure knew what went wrong, but the deaths of civilians in this setting raised doubts on the manner the police conducted its operation. There were others who suffered injuries in this incident.

In the past, many innocent people suspiciously died or sustained injuries in similar circumstances. Alarmed people ask if this is another case of “shoot first, investigate later” —a frightening possiblity civilians and police officers find hard to deal with. =0=

Hospital: a vacation house or a sanctuary for malingerers?

October 29, 2008

The spectacular show of Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante continued at the airport when an ambulance rushed him to St. Lukes’s Medical Center on his arrival on October 28, 2008. The deportee who lost his appeal for asylum in the United States allegedly complained of “chest pains” and hospital authorities are mum about his medical condition

“…as the then undersecretary for finance of the Department of Agriculture, Bolante was the architect of embezzlement of more than P3 Billion (around $64M), including P728M fertilizer fund, that were intended for farmers’ benefits…reports suggest that the fraud-tainted money was used as campaign fund of Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election.” UP “Accused of Plunder, Jocjoc Bolante, Returns from US a Deportee’ (10/29/08, Gimpaya, A)

Accused of stealing money from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP,) Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia committed a crime similar to that Bolante is charged of. Both needed some hospital stay. Garcia had himself confined in UST for alleged serious medical problems at the height of his trial only to be found guilty of corruption and acts unbecoming of a soldier.

Convicted child-rapist Romeo Jalosjos had been reported to have sought medical confinement for conditions like cough and high blood pressure that could well be managed on an out-patient basis.

Pres. Erap Estrada used the Veterans Memorial Medical Center as a private detention house until he was brought to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. Later he was put under “rest house arrest” in his cozy villa across the camp on the bases of questionable medical reasons. His supporters were delighted, but the public couldn’t hide their scorn.

Yolanda Ricaforte, the bag woman in the Estrada plunder case also used some medical excuses. She pompously appeared in public in a wheelchair with a personal nurse during an investigation. With eyes shielded by dark sunglasses, she blamed hypertension for her “fragile” health. Her nurse in a white uniform plus a stethoscope on her neck stood by her side as though she could do something in case an emergency arise. After that appearance, Ricaforte surreptitiously rode a plane, skipped Manila to hide as a fugitive in America.

Filipinos understand that medical problems are used as props, distractions, and excuses during an inquiry or litigation. Lawyers exploit health reasons for their clients with the cooperation of their doctors. Not negating the need to stay in the hospital if there is true medical indication, the public is usually distrustful whenever people like Bolante goes straight to stay in a hospital suite (not the emergency room?) after his arrival in the airport. (Photo Credits: shashamane; suetortoise) =0=

UPDATE: GMA News reported on October 30, 2008 that Joc Joc Bolante is confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center for medical tests that will take 5 days—rather slow for a VIP. There is no apparent medical justification to keep him in bed in the hospital which can be better used by sicker patients. Many MDs suspect, with Bolante’s “stable” status, such tests on him are better done on out-patient (ambulatory) service.

September 16, 2008

ni Gregorio V. Bituin Jr.

Kung ako’y maging isang desaparecido
Pilitin po ninyong hanapin ako, inay
Kung sakali mang tuluyang nawala ako
Ay makita man lang ang malamig kong bangkay.
Nawala man ako’y para sa pagbabago
Tangan ang prinsipyo’t pangarap ko sa buhay
Isang marangal na libing po ang nais ko
At isang tula ko sa lapida’y ilagay.

Nagmamalaki akong ako’y aktibista
Na prinsipyado itong sinuong na landas
Na ang tumatahak nama’y pawang bihira
At karaniwan, ang tulad ko’y dinarahas.
Aktibista’y may pag-ibig sa kanyang kapwa
Kaya’t nilalabanan ang sinumang hudas
Na sa bayan natin ay nagsasamantala.
Panlipunang pagbabago ang tanging lunas.

Akong inyong anak ay alam nyong lalaban
Sa anumang sistemang mapagsamantala
Mahal kong inay, nais kong inyong malaman
Isa ka po sa pinakadakilang ina
Sa mundong itong kaytindi ng karahasan
Dakila ka dahil tulad ni Birheng Marya
Ay inalay mo sa pagbago ng lipunan
Ang anak mo para sa paglaya ng iba.

N.B. Ang tula ay pinadala sa akin ng makatang si Greg V. Bituin, Jr. Isang pangamba sa mga nawawala sa ating lipunan at pag-alaala sa mga pinaslang na walang katarungan—AFM (September 16, 2008)

What’s common in C-130 plane crash, Sulpicio Lines’ sinking & the “MOA-ancestral domain” controversy

August 31, 2008

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) symbolic coffins of people presumed dead in a C-130 cargo plane crash bring a message. Barely a week has passed that the 9 military personnel went missing. Many think it’s too soon to dismiss them as dead, much more mourn with a posthumous memorial when no exhaustive search for their bodies have been done.

The flag-draped tribute for the brave soldiers was emotionally-moving. (Photo Credit: Philstar) The same day as the Philippine Navy (PN) announced having found the site of crash, the glum spectacle of honoring those who “perished,” went on. Nobody reported having retrieved a body. No one knows from whom the pieces of human flesh found in the crash site belong to. Only a lonely badge of “Armadong Kusog ng Pilipinas,” ID cards, and an assortment of personal effects stand as evidence of death, convincing high-ranking military officers to “close” the grim case.

Declaring a quick closure on missing persons has become too common in the Philippines. When Abu Sabaya was allegedly swallowed by the sea during a bloody confrontation with the military, a pair of sun-glasses was all that was needed to tell the world, the notorious Abu Sayyaf hostage-killer of Christian missionary Martin Burnham with a hefty cash bounty on his head, was dead. Fabled money was exchanged swiftly as the news rolled in, confusing the public with embarrassing inconsistencies in government statements and media reporting.

Many passengers of the Princess of the Stars were presumed to have passed on almost immediately when the ferry ship was found grounded near Sibuyan Islands. Similarly, the Dona Paz collision with tanker Vector brought fast presumption of deaths, including those not included in the ship manifest.

It seems the military authorities rushed beyond their call of duty by presuming these people were all dead. Military bravery and “efficient” swiftness were perhaps what they wanted to project. But they ignored the medico-legal ramifications of declaring a missing person dead—-something reminiscent of the gaffe behind the bungled memorandum of agreement-ancestral domain (MOA-AD,) tossed to the Supreme Court when Philippine peace negotiators (military men involved) didn’t do enough to ascertain the applicability and legality of giving away territorial concessions to the MILF.

The distribution of cash awards to relatives of unverified dead victims of Sulpicio Lines (Princess of the Stars.) was another thing. Without waiting if the “dead” people involved were truly among the passengers in the boat which sank at the height of Typhoon Frank, there were offers to silence the victims’ relatives with cash. For sometime now, the uproar raised by the mishap had died down quickly as the lawsuits that followed.

Certainly, there are laws governing the declaration of death of a missing person. They have serious practical applications which cover diverse issues such as settling of a decedent’s estate, the awarding of inheritance, indemnity claims, insurance benefits, the exercise of a citizen’s rights to vote, accountability for a crime or contracting marriage.

Let us take contracting marriage as an example. To the best of my knowledge the Philippine Family Code stipulates in Article 41 a 4-year wait before a missing person to be declared dead for the purpose of re-marriage. The waiting time is shortened to two years for a spouse, if the missing person presumably passed on in a sea voyage—- like the sinking of the Sulpicio Lines ferry or in a the falling of an aircraft from the sky like the missing persons of the C-130 plane crash.

At a glance, one can see how often the law is brushed aside. With out following the judicial rules, empty coffins are paraded which seem to perturb the silent public. No one raises any objection— not even the grieving victims’ relatives who took P60,000 (less than $2,000) as “financial” aids for the “death” of their loved ones. =0=

UPDATE: September 2, 2008, a day after the military’s posthumous tribute was held, 7 bodies out of 9 were allegedly recovered. Though not all bodies were complete, waiting for some time was more appropriate so taht the remains of those who perished in C-130 plane crash could be included in the memorial. In keeping with the law, a premature declaraion of death could be avoided.