CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD
There are those charged in court but has never been arrested yet nor placed under custody of law. We have former General Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, former Dinagat Island Rep Ruben Ecleo Jr. and Globe Asiatique developer Delfin Lee. Before them, we have former Senator Ping Lacson who never allowed himself arrested and detained hiding from law until he was cleared by the courts. There were familiar names that were likewise charged and are now in detention, like Napoles, Arroyo, Ampatuan. While those at large are nowhere in sight, and others who merely reappeared at will after ignoring warrants, there are persons who are literally in custody but never subjected to the rigors of the usual detention experience a common detainee would usually undergo. Not that these “influential” people ought to suffer congestion and related coercive expression of custodial officers but the leniency of space and related comforts they get should be the template ordinary detainees must also apply.
The Law must apply to all or it should never be applied at all. If a person is to be detained in a special camp strictly for security consideration, let it be on the basis of risk assessment. An ideologue or rebel for instance should never be mixed with those charged or convicted with common crimes. Hence, a specific facility must be determined for this category. Former MNLF Chair Nur Misuari, former President Joseph Estrada, Senator Jinggoy Estrada occupied the Sta. Rosa detention center and it is understandable. But for Janet Napoles who was charged for illegal detention to be confined separately in a facility for ideologues is incomprehensible. It insults intelligence. It adds salt to an injured criminal justice formulation. It baffles the principled mind.
Not that Janet ought to stay elsewhere and beat the lights out of her comfort but those detainees in sweat shop facilities must also be provided the same level of comfortable condition. After all, the constitutional presumption of innocence is still there. They are all innocents technically speaking and as yet to be judicially declared as guilty. And even assuming that guilt has been the verdict, the same humane treatment should also be applied. Remember that a person is segregated through incarceration as punishment but not to serve time under a regime of punishment.
Fair treatment for those under the criminal justice administration must be a consideration everyone must be able to reach, must be able to obtain, must be affordable to everyone. Fair treatment does not imply leniency in the pejorative sense but for humane consideration. If the system cannot duly exercise and apply this dictum, then we can just admit our failing and start ignoring international fora and turn a deaf ear on the requirements for and in the observance of the Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Persons Under Custody of Law. At least we are honest in our declaration and more so, there is virtue in honesty.
The problem with criminal justice practitioners is that they do not exactly know the terrain of their territory. They are simply blind at the weakness where there should be strength. They presume that mere declaration is enough to outwit history. They understand their role can easily be forgotten on the basis of the people’s short term memory loss.
That of course is not the true essence of criminal justice administration. There is still a need to appreciate what that simple term fairness is all about for those who care. But then, I oftentimes would hear just that: Who cares!