Press Release
March 24, 2010

Aquino: "We have to restore the credibility of our justice system"

Leading presidential candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino said on Tuesday that the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to allow outgoing President Gloria Arroyo to appoint a new chief justice six weeks before she steps down from office has further eroded the credibility of the Philippine justice system.

"The SC decision fits into whatever plan president Arroyo has laid down to maintain power, whether as President or not. But the danger of the decision is far more serious than that," said Aquino, who earlier said he will join street protests against the SC ruling.

"The latest decision of the SC has eroded further the credibility of our institutions that protect and promote the Rule of Law and dispense justice in our country. We have to restore the credibility of our justice system and gain back the trust of our people," said Aquino.

Aquino vowed to reform, if elected, the justice system by eliminating corruption in law enforcement and prosecution agencies such as the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Massive corruption in these agencies has led to unjust or delayed trials, mostly for the poor who do not have money to ensure fair trials. It has also allowed criminals to be let off lightly, thereby making victims and ordinary citizens lose faith in the legal system.

"I will appoint honest and qualified leaders in these institutions," said Aquino. "I will work quickly to appoint honest and qualified judges to fill in the vacancy in 25% of our courts."

Aquino seeks to expand the Public Attorneys Office, and increase its budget to make justice accessible to poor.

Aquino will also double the budget of the judiciary, and conduct a review of the state of the justice system within the first 100 days of his presidency to transform it into "the true and faithful guardian of the Rule of Law and the last bastion of democracy."

"This can be done," Aquino said. "If we are serious about justice, we must invest in our institutions and its people."

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