NOW IS THE TIME TO CHANGEDaisy Brett-Holt
The toppling of the former President
(Turned Dictator) Ferdinand Marcos was our chance to straighten our heavily flawed political system. We did not.
The leaders of the coup d’état must have realized even then the problems of our system. Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos, two of the finest minds in law and the military, were at some point educated in America and thus, well-versed in the Jury System. Why did neither of these Filipino leaders suggest its adoption? Did they foresee investigations on themselves? True enough, they were both questioned on anomalies during their respective terms of office, and Enrile even jailed. Nonetheless, Filipino lawyer Marlowe Camello (who also practices in California, USA) presented to then President Cory Aquino in 1987 the possible adoption of the Jury System into the New Constitution being drafted. He was ignored. Thus, we retained a judicial system wherein a single judge decides on the fate of a poor Juan de la Cruz and a rich Parts of the 1987 Constitution The Constitution is divided into 18 parts, excluding the Preamble, which are called Articles. The Articles are as follows:
Article I – National Territory
Article II – Declaration of Principles and State Policies
Article III – Bill of Rights
Article IV – Citizenship
Article V – Suffrage
Article VI – Legislative Department
Article VII – Executive Department
Article VIII – Judicial Department
Article IX – Constitutional Commission
Article X – Local Government
Article XI – Accountability of Public Officers
Article XII – National Economy and Patrimony
Article XIII – Social Justice and Human Rights
Article XIV – Education, Science and Technology, Arts,
Culture and Sports
Article XV – The Family
Article XVI – General Provisions
Article XVII – Amendments or Revisions
Article XVIII – Transitory Provisions
20 YOU BE THE JUDGE! Now Is the Time to Change 21
and powerful John de la Cruz. Guess what the verdict is likely to be.
Our second chance came during the impeachment of President Joseph Estrada. Chief Justice Davide was the Presiding Officer over 21 Senator-Judges. They could have acted as jurors, had they been instructed accordingly by the Chief Justice.
The Senators already acted as one. The trial took only a few weeks. However, its speedy conclusion was derailed by the abrupt cessation of the hearing due to the walk-out of the minority when more Senators refused to open the crucial envelope-evidence. Hence, the Senator-Judges failed to serve as jurors in relentless search for the truth. Because of this obvious omission, the citizens once again asked, “Did money change hands?” which is usual in the Philippine justice system.
NOW IS OUR THIRD CHANCE!
Overseas Filipinos have been exposed to a different justice system—the Jury System in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other progressive European and Asian countries. There, they have seen it work efficiently, effectively and swiftly for all, including themselves. And these modern-day Pinoy heroes long for the same to happen in their own country.
Instead, they see all over their homeland, lawlessness, crime with impunity, and corruption in all branches and levels of government, leading to the breakdown of society. Poverty is the natural effect as everybody just watches out for himself in the pervasive dysfunction in the implementation of justice.
At the start of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment proceedings, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile stated:
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate and our beloved countrymen, today we begin to perform a solemn task that the sovereign people, through the Constitution, have reposed upon us, the Senators of the Republic.”
“We convene AS A BODY OF JURORS to try and render judgment on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court under the Articles of Impeachment
22 YOU BE THE JUDGE!
filed with the Senate by 188 members of the House of
This time, the Senator-Judges acted as a jury. Corona’s
trial was swift and justice was served.
The statement of Enrile affirmed that when decisions
are to be made at the highest level of national life, the
Constitution requires the Jury System.
IF THE JURY SYSTEM IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ENRILE
AND THE SENATE AT MOMENTS OF CRISIS IN OUR
COUNTRY, IT SHOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE REST
OF THE FILIPINOS.