THE PROMISES OF THE JURY SYSTEM

What are the hellish conditions in the present Philippines that a Jury System aims to eradicate?

  1. Powerlessness of citizens

Atty. Marlowe Camello states: “The Filipino People can do more than just electing public officials, because the People are sovereign. It is within their supreme power to participate in the affairs of justice with their judicial officials (prosecutors, judges, justices, and the Ombudsman) in the power to decide on cases in court. Presently, the set-up of our justice system is such that only a solo judge (who may be controlled by his powerful political godfather/mother can decide a case. Since the authority of judges emanates from a sovereign people, the sovereign people can modify the deciding authority of judges. The people, under the Constitution’s Article VI, Section 32 as implemented by Republic Act 6735, can pass a jury law in which they can reserve unto themselves the exclusive power to decide the case of an accused under trial.”

“To argue that the people, in spite of their being the sovereign source of authority of public officials, ‘that they have no right and power to decide in justice’, would be an insult and condemnation of the people as mere zombies and that they cannot be intrusted to discern between right or wrong whether their public officials are performing their functions rightly or wrongly. The people should have the right to decide in justice to punish their public servants who criminally abuse their authority.”

“As it stands today in our justice system and in concept, it is the servant that punishes the master when the master commits a crime which is an absurd rule. At best, he must be tried and convicted by his fellow citizens and not by his own servant. In the problem of ‘palakasan’ justice, the people have become beggars of justice.”

  1. Inequality before the law

Further, Atty. Camello expressed: “The Jury System is the means by which we, in the private sector, are enabled in justice to directly accuse in court, to send

44 YOU BE THE JUDGE! The Promises of the Jur y System 45

corrupt officials to jail regardless of their title, rank, or family, including a sitting president. By the Jury System, we no longer have to go through a prosecutor, judge or ombudsman to investigate and accuse in court a crooked government official.”

  1. Discrimination in law enforcement

According to Atty. Camello: “Once we have set-up the Jury System, it will guide us to work together in justice without discrimination between rich and poor, powerful and lowly, men and women. This is the greatest factor that will unite us in justice, peace and prosperity. The people, and not their politicians, will be the controllers of their justice system. The Jury System will also start to dismantle all the corrupt political dynasties around the country.”

  1. Leaders’ disrespect of law

Atty. Camello describes our present justice system as “personalized, especially with the President appointing all prosecutors, judges, justices, and ombudsman; and with high government officials recommending the same justice officials, who therefore are beholden to them. To equalize the power of justice officials, they must also be supported by the votes of the sovereign people through their ballots in the Jury System. Then, we won’t have a selective justice that chooses whom to convict or not.”

  1. Lack of law enforcement

As a result of the flawed justice system, Atty. Camello reasons that “powerful corrupt officials, their families and friends are NEVER EVER INDICTED, much less convicted for corruption because many prosecutors and judges are nothing but errand boys and girls of powerful officials. If you are a poor victim of a crime committed by a high-powered government official, you will often need to kneel before these untouchables so that an offender can be prosecuted for his transgression of your right. In most cases, though, you end up signing an Affidavit of Desistance in the name of ‘peace’.”

  1. Justice delayed and denied

The present “just tiis” system is open-ended, subject to postponements galore, and violates the time set for decision, sometimes outlasting either or both parties or the accused serving a longer jail term than his sentence if convicted. The Jury System has a deadline set for its decision, also because the jurors have to go back to their private lives. “Jury trials usually take 5-10 days including rendition of its verdict. The longest it could take would be 2 years, still shorter than the 5-15 years for decisions in our present justice system.”

  1. Disunity among Filipinos

There are current conflicts among our economic classes, religions, sexual orientation, and the public and private sectors. With the Jury System, Atty. Camello elaborates, “All Muslims, rich or poor, powerful or lowly, will gain equal power with Christians, men as well as women as they decide jointly in judicial administration and decisionmaking.”

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