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Judicial and Military reform


The President and his spokespersons have been denying the allegation by Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona that his impeachment is an assault against the entire judiciary, in the latter’s obvious tactic to drum up sympathy and support from that branch of government which former President Erap once said is made up of “hoodlums in robes.”  But yes, instead of a coy response, the President should expand his dragnet in word and deed to cleanse it of its notoriously institutionalized graft and corruption and inefficiency.  Everyone knows how the simplest of cases drag for years in the courts, so that those who are mistakenly accused and jailed but later acquitted nevertheless end up punished (along with their families) for a crime they did not commit.  And by now, it should be clear that reform will not come from within the judicial system.  Our  judicial stewards need to be dragged kicking and screaming to a Faustian purgatory to put the fear of God in them.

But even more than the judiciary, one other institution that badly needs reforming is the Armed Forces.  The current manhunt for the military terror turned criminal fugitive retired Major Gen. Jovito “The Butcher” Palparan and the recent filing of murder charges against 10 Navy officers by the Ombudsman for the alleged murder 16 years ago of Ensign Phillip Andrew Pestano are but two of several episodes  that reveal how dangerously depraved the Philippine military have become.  The Pestano affair is especially significant to us people in Mindanao because he was allegedly killed by his own colleagues because he resisted their criminal activities such as smuggling guns to the Abu Sayyaf, who then use those firearms to kill priests and school children.  Or, to warlords in Maguindanao who then use them to kill defenseless journalists and women. And ahh, the generals – everything from conniving in election fraud to miserably snitching on the combat rations of their foot soldiers so they can have their yummy retirement “pabaons.”    It is a litany of horrors that can go on and on.

This institutionalized culture of impunity – the original version – was discussed in a short published opinion article very soon after Pres. Aquino assumed office, as if to warn him what he is up against in his campaign promise to rid government of corruption.    It is a reminder he did not need: his mother Cory suffered several military coup attempts that in sum demolished the dreams of the EDSA Revolution.  From the day the Philippine Armed Forces was organized, the article claimed, it  has served only the vested interests of the political and economic  elite of this country.

The reform and transformation of the judiciary and military to enable them to honor their respective mandates is looking like a very tough job, or an impossible one if left to PNoy and his aides  to do it all.   To succeed, the effort indeed should take the form of a peaceful revolution, a do-it-yourself phenomenon not unusual nowadays.   And going by history’s record, revolutions are successful only when they are articulated and pursued by society’s politically- strategic and  -capitalized middle and intelligent class. 

By Peace Advocates Zamboanga


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