Zamora: Decide on Marcos cases
MANILA, Philippines – Former Congressman and Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora told the Judicial and Bar Council on Friday, July 27, the 30-year-old cases involving the Marcos wealth should be decided with finality by the courts.
A known protégé of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos – who, like him, topped the Bar exams – Zamora admitted he regards the former president as a mentor. He also said the Marcos children are old enough, mature enough, and should be able to defend themselves properly.
After 3 long decades, Zamora said he thinks that whether or not the decisions favor the Marcoses, the family would be thankful that the cases reach some conclusion.
Having been a member of Congress for about 30 years, besides acting as executive secretary under the administration of former President Joseph Estrada, Zamora’s independence from political influence – if ever he was appointed to the High Court – was questioned. He had been majority and minority floor leader in Congress.
He, however, refuted this, saying that one of the more successful chief justices was Marcelo Fernan, who was himself a politician from Cebu. Zamora said he foresees an “easy transition” if he gets appointed, saying that he does “not carry too much baggage.” He does not have enough political baggage to be disqualified, he added.
On the contrary, being a politician will give him a “better sense of how to deal with people, answer questions, and supply solutions to certain problems.”
Zamora also pointed out that he did not vote for President Benigno Aquino III and was not with him in his party or in the last elections. He does not owe anybody a “political obligation” or a “personal favor.”
His management and executive skills, he pointed out, will be useful in the Supreme Court. As former executive secretary, he ran a department that was “even larger than the entire judiciary.”
Trials in Filipino
Zamora also proposed that court trials be held in Filipino so that proceedings could be understood by ordinary Filipinos not proficient in English. A transition in 5 to 10 years could be prepared for, he added.
“We should start doing something about this dichotomy,” he pointed out, adding that by shifting to Filipino, “we bring the law into the lives of people and we cannot do it in a foreign language.”
Like Spanish, English will eventually fall by the wayside with call centers and multinational companies left speaking it. He predicted that the language of the next century will no longer be English but “Putungwa” or Mandarin.
He turned emotional when asked by JBC member Michael Musngi about his daughter who died from acute myelogenous leukemia at the age of 38. A lawyer like himself, a painter and a writer, Consuelo was certain to die, according to her doctors in Houston, but Zamora said “a good father will not accept reality like that.”
She needed white blood cell transfusions every day and he organized a small group of rotating donors. Being a lawyer, his daughter signed a “do not resuscitate” order to her doctors. “She had a heart seizure and underwent cardiac arrest. She could have lived but she signed her own death certificate.”
It has “not been easy,” Zamora said, “But I take one step at a time. You will try to remember to breathe in and out. In the end you try to live for the next day, the next week, the next month. And that is what I have done.”
Later recovering, he pointed out that a majority of the cases lodged with the Supreme Court involve bouncing checks, drug cases, and appeals of reclusion perpetua.
If these were all removed and transferred to the Court of Appeals, for instance, it would reduce the caseload of the Supreme Court by as much as 43% every year.
Compared to the Supreme Court in the US, the entire court has to deal with only 100 cases for one whole session. In the Philippines, each justice in the High Court has to dispose of 1,000 cases in some years.
JBC presiding officer Diosdado Peralta ended up bringing to Zamora’s attention the woes of the High court in the hopes of finding an ally in Congress. He said Congress needs to act on antiquated drug laws, while other members pointed out the need to increase the budget of the judiciary which stands at only 1% of the entire national budget.
The 67-year-old Zamora said that if he were appointed to the High Court, he would get it more money, look at methods and technology. For instance, he added, judges should be provided with tablets, iPads, and iPhones to connect them to the 21st century. - Rappler.com
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