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.
There will be continuing power interruption in Mindanao and it will worsen before it is even resolved. But there is a solution, painful for the consumer as it were. Additional cost to shoulder the burden for improved energy distribution is the only way. Over in Agusan del Sur, power has been restored but the consumers will have to pay an additional P10 per kilowatt to defray the cost of operating modular generating sets. Now, where will our government’s face and our political leadership situated in this equation? Lahat na lang inasa na sa taong-bayan—simula sweldo ng pulitiko hanggang sa serbisyo ng pamahalaan.
Our law enforcement is quick when their prey belongs to the marginal community, the great unwashed so to speak, they who comprise the bulk of those who survive through hand-to-mouth existence. Recently, two persons were apprehended for selling bottled fuel by the road side. Accordingly, these vendors are violating a martial law Presidential Decree (1865) and therefore should be penalized with imprisonment. But wait a minute. These street urchins merely want to survive from a measly take of P5 per bottle. What about those oil smugglers who benefited in their schemes and deprived government in the estimated amount of P59 Billion yearly?
The Philippine Navy expressed disappointment at something which is known already as common sense. It is true that Philippine waters is too vast to secure. We are an archipelagic nation and our coastal line is the longest in Asia. That is given. It is like saying that at midnoon every summer, it is too hot for comfort. What does the expression of the Navy imply therefore? That it is useless, futile and pathetic to guard our coastal areas from intruders? That overseeing the entire stretch of the Philippine coast is a hopeless proposition? We know that from the start. The Philippine Navy or Government for that matter may subscribe to internet servers dealing with satellite feeds on the entire stretch of the country. That way, the country’s entire area will be guarded. It is like installing a CCTV in one’s establishment.
Further north in Abra province, the police reported that complaints were filed indicating malpractices in electoral campaign exercises. Accordingly, those running for public office are shelling up P3K for individual voters. Since the voting population of Abra is 147, 615, the estimated cost for buying a vote amounts to P18 Million. The investment is recovered when the politician assumes office. With a P22 Million yearly pork barrel appropriation, it means a whooping P66Million bonanza after the 3-year term is over. In plain language, a peso spent can be recovered four fold. As investment is recoup several times over, the winner supremely rides at the crest of command power, dominating fame and influencial clout over a specific population.
Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, that billion dollar coffee chain, when interviewed expressed something which every concerned patriot should bear in mind. He said that when he started the business, he had a rule that no family members, including his children, should be part of the company. Starbucks became a successful public company. But don’t tell that to politicians. They wanted their children to be elected too and inherit his perk and power. Never mind if government fails and public service stinks. Unlike Starbucks, in their view, governance may reek and the people deserves its stench because most of those who elected them got paid to suffer already.