“WARRANT OF ARREST” AND “FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE”
There are two legal terms that circulated in mass media pertaining those who were linked with the alleged malversation of public funds with reference to PDAF (or Priority Development Assistance Fund) or simply known as pork barrel. These are “warrant of arrest” and “fugitive from justice.” For those with legal education, these are simple terms understandable in its concepts and application. Indeed, at this time, the most exciting course is Law. To be a lawyer or merely completing a law degree is like becoming a physician at a time of epidemic; or, a mechanic in an unforgiving road terrain.
Just what is an arrest warrant? In this country, it is called warrant of arrest. It is a court “order issued by a judge on behalf of the State, which authorizes the arrest and detention of an individual or the search and seizure of an individual’s property.” The latter is known as “search warrant”, also an order coming from the court of law.
Previous cases where warrant has been served on high profile cases also introduced another term “fugitive from justice.” This is obtained when “an individual who, after having committed a criminal offense, leaves the jurisdiction of the court where such crime has taken place or hides within such jurisdiction to escape prosecution.”
The legislators upon hearing of the possible issuance of a warrant of arrest manifested their compliance and even volunteered to surrender. This is a matured response from responsible individuals. For all there is to it, Star editorial summed up the impression that “only the guilty will want to delay the trial and buy time while looking for a way to escape life in prison. The innocent will want his name cleared as speedily as possible.”
But how fast and prompt this “speedily” thing in our criminal justice goes? The Ampatuan case has been there in the dockets for almost four years with no resolution to reach a final judicial decree yet. The proverbial light in the tunnel is as yet to manifest any glimmer of completion. Never mind Cedric Lee, but we have a lovely Denise Cornejo in detention also waiting for the disposition of the case, the end of which has no timeline and we talk of speed in criminal prosecution as if it is a component, although it really is, of criminal justice administration.
There are lots of legal niceties and nuisance to bank on as a technical approach, all of which stretches the limits of judicial temper. It is there as guarantee for fair play even if in the process, it broadens likewise the extent of credulity. Those at the other end are either disadvantaged or worst, if they are innocent, short-changed.
The length of the period inspires dodging by those adversely affected. If this should be a part of the system where there should be speed but in reality there is little, then the sane option is to be a fugitive from justice. Although jurisprudence is harsh for those who would flee from the legal machination of our courts, citing that by flight indicates guilt; there are persons who would rather take the risk. We have heard of Senator Ping Lacson evading arrest for a year by hiding. There are also persons who have achieved celebrity status if not notoriety like Congressman Ecleo, General Jovito Palparan, Palawan governor and mayor, Reyes brothers. Whether by hiding could later be explained and taken on its face value benefiting the determination of the offense or not is a matter for the courts to weigh in. In the case of Senator Lacson, he benefited from the act. He was proven right although by hiding, it entailed gargantuan sacrifices and so much compromises.
For a fugitive, he must harness and spend a fortune. He cannot afford to be trusting. A whistle blow from a Boy Scout is enough alarm for adrenaline to flow. Hiding or disguising is punishing already although for the adventurer, it is enough to supply excitement. Fugitives must have a competent understanding of those chasing him and his social environment, or else it would just a waste of effort.
At this point, media is everywhere monitoring who gets a warrant and abuzz on who the latest to disappear from view and has turned into a fugitive. Gone were the days when common felons or ordinary delinquents are treated by criminal justice system this way. Now, it is the turn of the celebrities.
The prison community is waiting with bated breath.