Press Release
February 23, 2011


February 22, 2011, 2:00p.m.
Session Hall, Supreme Court

I thank most sincerely the Honorable Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, for his kind invitation for me to be one of the guest speakers in today's forum.

The Judicial Sector Coordinating Council is an idea whose time has come. Gathering two branches of our tri-partite system of government under a cooperative and coordinating mode is a step forward in the attainment of justice for all. I therefore congratulate the agencies and representatives of the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Interior and Local Governments for this effort. Your presence here today attests to the urgency with which you have viewed this task for people and country. Your group may just be the engine we need for the wheels of justice to finally move on faster and fairer.

I note that there is no institutional representation from the legislative department to the JSCC. My legal staff shall be ready, however, to be of any assistance to this Council when so desired. Pending or proposed legislation may become necessary as an intervention for the realization of some goals and objectives which this council may propose in the course of its meetings.

My thoughts on the work of the JSCC are as follows:

1. What philosophy of justice and penology should guide us? What balance shall we hope to achieve between the claims of self-defense of society from its lawbreakers and the need to transform the lawbreaker and integrate him back to society?

2. What principles of social justice are appropriate for a poor people living in a nation rich in land, fisheries and other natural resources? President Quezon redistributed the so-called "friar lands" to its occupants, and Presidents Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino pinned their hopes on agricultural land reform. What are the demands of social justice today? I dare say that it looks at the poor, and the poor's access to justice, employment, education, health and progress.

3. How can we utilize the revolution in information technology, our digital age, in solving common social problems as diverse as carnapping, identity theft, and credit card fraud?

4. In criminal law, what reforms can we make to adjust our internationally mandated age of criminal responsibility at 18 years of age to one that is appropriate to our culture and experience? We came from a low of 9 years of age and below as those exempt from criminal responsibility, but the new threshold of 18 years old and above as criminally responsible have opened the floodgates in illegal drugs and other crimes.

5. How responsible is our half-century old boundary system in public transportation to the chaos in our streets and the non-availability of taxi services to the common people?

6. Have we manualized specific areas for police and prosecutorial procedures so that cases are not thrown out by the courts for technicalities?

The first century of the third millennium is upon us. Our present operating systems are circa 19th and 20th centuries. The team you have gathered here today is not unlike that of a team of doctors focusing on a patient which is our justice system. I hope the rebuilding of our justice system will be as fast as the work going on in Ground Zero in Manhattan, the former site of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center bombed in September 11, 2001, rather as slow as the rebuilding of Intramuros which was bombed in 1945 during the Liberation of Manila.

The JSCC may just be the answer.

Thank you and good day.

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