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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Exclude CJs from poll surveys

For Duterte to accuse Romualdez as being behind it all against his daughter is not only irrelevant and illogical, but a statement of no consequence

My favorite and good friend Artemio Panganiban, retired Supreme Court Justice, came out recently with a very thoughtful analysis on why Chief Justices should be excluded from poll surveys where CJs are almost always the last to be mentioned in the list of high public officials.

First and foremost, Chief Justices and associate justices are not elective So that approval and trust ratings should not be the concern and poll surveyors who should not include them in surveys.

The Constitutional requirements of members of the High Court are very clear.

Their three basic qualifications are: natural-born citizenship, minimum age, and ability to read and write.

Justices and judges are Constitutionally required five more qualities: proven competence, integrity , probity, and independence and must be a member of the Philippine Bar, unlike elective officials whose only qualifications must be: natural-born citizen, of minimum age, and ability to read and write.

Santa Banana, the Constitution does not discriminate the unschooled, the dishonest, school drop-outs, even the sycophants and criminals from running for public office.

Unfortunately, some of the public officials we have belong to the list.

That is something in the Constitution that must be corrected since elective officials more often than not are involved in issues of national interest and national security.

What I find very interesting in Art’s column are his observations that CJs and associate justices should avoid the vagaries on public opinion, especially that of the mob, and do not go through campaign for elections, which often make public officials captive of local politics, even of relatives, husbands and wives, school chums and relatives.

On the other hand, Chief Justices and associate justices rely merely on their conscience and the rule of law.

Ironically, the Supreme Court has become the last bastion of democracy and what they rule on in their decisions are not appealable.

They are often called the “gods of Padre Faura” because what they decide is the law whether we like it or not – in reference to the street location of the Supreme Court.

I like this part of the column of Panganiban: “I will fret the day if and when CJs would vie for popularity instead of independence, surrender to the mob instead of to the truth based on a fair trial, and judge wickedly to gain fame and favor instead of rendering justice though the heavens may fall.”

I can only say “amen” to that.

Threat to kill

Informed sources told me the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives will sue former President Rodrigo Duterte for grave threats against Makabayan bloc Rep. France Castro whom he called a communist for her efforts to make Duterte’s daughter Sara , now Vice President and concurrent education secretary, forgo her CF.

Sara Duterte and Castro had continuing squabbles and controversies over Inday Sara’s efforts to continue having confidential funds of P500 million for the Office of the Vice President and another P150 million for the Department of Education.

Records show Sara got P125 million during the remaining months of 2023 as VP of which she allegedly spent all her secret funds in just 11 days. Or was it 19 days?

Whatever, the Makabayan bloc will sue the former President for grave threats that carries a maximum penalty of six months and a maximum of P100,000 fine.

Clearly, the former President does not realize that as a private citizen, he no longer has immunity from suits, and as usual to himself the word “kill, kill, kill” automatically comes out of his mouth, as he had done in his six-year war against illegal drugs so that the International Criminal Court wants to investigate him for “crimes against humanity” in his war on illegal drugs.

I really cannot speculate on the outcome of the suit-to-be against Duterte, but he should realize the implications of anything he says now that he is no longer in Malacanang.

What I find disconcerting in Duterte’s reported statement in his efforts to defend his daughter was his reported accusation that Speaker Martin Romualdez was responsible for all the statements of members of the House to account where the people’s money is going in the alleged “confidential and intelligence finds.”

That the Speaker is behind it all and is the one spending for the attacks of the Makabayan bloc is illogical and that Romualdez is also seeking the presidency in relation to the move of the House just for transparency and accountability in relation to the CIF.

Obviously, Duterte is his usual self, coming out with statements the implications of which he does not realize.

For Duterte to accuse Romualdez as being behind it all against his daughter is not only irrelevant and illogical, but a statement of no consequence,

Extrajudicial killings

Obviously, in an effort of Inday Sara to justify the issue of extrajudicial killings which marked her father’s war on illegal drugs, she said the EJKs occurred not because of her father’s “kill, kill, kill” mantra on the war on illegal drugs but because of the slow judicial system.

Her father’s Operation Tokhang and Operation Double Barrel resulted in so many extra-judicial killings by the police then headed by now Senator Bato dela Rosa when he was then chief of police.

How wrong are you Inday Sara!

The many EJKs that happened between the years 2016 and 2022 were caused by her father’s “kill,kill, kill” mantra against Illegal drugs, not by the country’s slow justice system.


A recurring problem for the Department of Justice is the congested jails under the supervision of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

During the term of then President Duterte, we saw how congested Metro Manila and National Capital Region jails were, so that the Quezon City jails were so congested that inmates had to take turns sleeping on the cement floor to be able to sleep.

Santa Banana, there were even inmates seen sleeping on the stairs because jails were so overcrowded with so many illegal drugs-surrenderers who did not want to be caught in what was then the “new normal” of extrajudicial killings.

These jails became the refuge center of drug users and drug addicts.

It was also a time when illegal drugs proliferated in jails by the drug users and addicts.

I don’t know how the situation of Metro Manila and NCR jails are now, but I am informed nothing has changed.

Congestion is one thing, the allocation of food supply is another.

The budget was many years ago at P50 per person.

Santa Banana, with the high prices of rice and many other food supplies now, that budget for inmates at P50 a piece is a crime.

I would suggest Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla should have a task force assigned to monitor nationwide the problem of jail congestion.

The problem arises from the fact that the slow dispensation of justice contributes to jail congestion so that most of the detainees have been staying in jails for years.

This brings to fore the continuing congestion at the New Bilibid Prisons at Muntinlupa , built to accommodate only 2,500 persons, but now is congested with some 20,000 inmates which has caused so many problems for the Bureau of Corrections .

While there were moves to decongest NBP by scattering some inmates to other jails nationwide, the same problem of congestion persists at the NBP.

There are occasionally riots among the many gang populations at the NBP.

Other problems at the NBP still persist like some “kubols” sporting television sets and all sorts of contraband gadgets, and even illegal drugs which some corrupt jail officers allow for the right price, Santa Banana.

There were some efforts to have the NBP transferred to Camp Laur in Nueva Ecija.

There was even a pre-bidding of contractors for it. Somehow along the line, this was discontinued despite the fact that some bidders had already paid to be allowed to pre-bid.

The problem of congestion is a continuing problem of the BuCor which must be resolved and given priority.

This congestion gave rise to the corruption at the NBP of some inmates given the opportunity of freedom for the commission of a crime.

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