Let’s all get out of jail now (provided we have the money)

Sylvia Estrada Claudio
Let’s all get out of jail now (provided we have the money)
As I remember the evil of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, I will remember, too, these Supreme Court justices who frustrated the hopes of many for a decision worthy of a just and democratic country

One of my most popular columns (shares, praise, comments and agreements, etc.) was the one rejoicing over the imprisonment of Juan Ponce Enrile. And if “going viral” is any indication of having captured the pulse of citizens, then many upright people thought putting Enrile in jail was the triumph of justice.

Thus the recent Supreme Court decision to grant him bail is a travesty. Simply, inexcusably and inexplicably a travesty. An egregious event in our national life.

Fine, I will say it. After all, I told readers about it in my previous article on Enrile. I am one of the thousands of Filipinos who put my life on the line to oppose the Marcos dictatorship. I did this long before Ninoy Aquino died. I and many others contributed to the conditions that needed only the spark of Ninoy’s sacrifice in order to bring back democracy to the Philippines.

In other words, I was one of those who put my life on the line so that we could have an independent and righteous Supreme Court. In doing so I put myself in danger because people like Enrile had no real desire for democracy. If Enrile would have had his way there wouldn’t have been a succession of presidents and an independent judiciary. If Enrile would have had his way, the very freedoms and rights under the Constitution that this Supreme Court invokes, would not be present.

I doubt if any of those justices who voted to free Enrile would even be in the Supreme Court if the dictatorship had not fallen. Or, on second thought, maybe they would have. They certainly now look like the kind of people Marcos and Enrile would have appointed. But only if Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who appointed all of them somehow became part of the dictatorship (as it turns out she is ideologically kith and kin to these corrupt fascists).

Our people power revolution has been betrayed by our Supreme Court. Not because the Supreme Court decided against the wishes of the executive branch of our Republic. One of the sine qua non of a democratic society is an independent judiciary. But independence from the executive and the legislative is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a Supreme Court to contribute to democracy.

Playing favorites

The Enrile decision has been a betrayal of democracy because many of us who fought the dictatorship fought for a country of fairness. A country which does not create institutions that elevate some citizens while excluding others. In its decision to free Enrile, the Supreme Court broke the rules and played favorites with one particular citizen. It was an institutional act of oppression and the arbitrary use of power. And that is betrayal.

Enrile wasn’t even asking to be allowed bail on the humanitarian grounds on which that bail was given, for goodness sake! And as a medical doctor, I rail about the number of times we certified women, men and children rotting in Marcos prisons for release because they were truly ill, only to haveEnrile deny those repeatedly.

In addition, as the dissenting opinion of Justice Leonen shows, it would seem the Supreme Court broke its own rules of procedure and collegiality. As a researcher who teaches reasoning and logic to my students, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that the justices had decided to release Enrile and therefore came up with the reasons to do it. That is not the kind of decision-making we expect of the men and women who lead our justice system.

In addition to breaking rules of logic and procedure, the Supreme Court also created a new doctrine on criminal law for this one man.

And here is where the Supreme Court shows itself as an institution of indignity and oppression. Because it favors this person who has the power, influence and wealth that can get him out of jail while the thousands who languish in jail, accused of far lesser crimes, cannot ever hope to have the same resources and thereby obtain their freedom.

Let the devil now take the highmost. Let all the powerful now ask the Supreme Court for the same relief. The Ampatuans, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Romeo Jalosjos, and every rich and corrupt person in jail, should appeal to the eight justices who freed Enrile.

Let their case loads increase exponentially. And let their consciences bear the burden of releasing the rich and corrupt as they please. Spare Chief Justice Sereno, Justices Leonen, Perlas-Bernabe and Carpio the indignities of having to decide on these get-out-of-jail-because-you-released-Enrile petitions.

In my previous article on Enrile, I said that history can also be called karma. That whatever else happens in this world, the righteous will remember and pass down this memory to future generations. As I remember the evil of Enrile, I will remember, too, these Supreme Court justices who frustrated the hopes of many for a decision worthy of a just and democratic country.

I note and record the names of those who freed Enrile: Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, ponente. Justices Arturo D. Brion, Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Jose C. Mendoza, Diosdado M. Peralta, Jose P. Perez, Presbitero Velasco Jr.

I shall borrow from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18:

So long as people breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this condemns the evil we see. –





Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.