Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to convene the Joint Judiciary Executive Legislative Council (JJELACC) in order to speed up the resolution of criminal cases amid a rising death toll in the war against illegal drugs.
Pangilinan on Thursday expressed alarm that the spate of killings “does not signify justice but indicates a breakdown of law and order.”
“In his inaugural address, President Duterte said his ‘adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising.’ We hold him to that statement and call for the convening of the Joint Judiciary Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JJELACC), which we proposed as Senate Majority Leader and Judicial and Bar Council representative in 2007 and which subsequently convened twice,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
“We know that the Philippine criminal justice system can be oppressively slow and unjust. We understand the weight of wrongful prosecution, expensive lawyers, and erroneous judgments. Under similar instances in 2007, we have tried to reform the system and address the gaps in the lack of judges, prosecutors, and public defenders. We have raised their salaries and improved their benefits. We have raised the judiciary’s budget,” he added.
The JJELAC was formed in 2008 through a memorandum of agreement signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and leaders of the two other government branches. It was an initiative of Pangilinan which he first proposed during a summit on extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances in 2007.
Calling for a “fairer and more effective” judicial system, Pangilinan said earlier JJELACC convention paved the way for a P3-billion additional budget for the judiciary, computerization of courts, and filling up of vacancies in courts nationwide.
“We have done these to raise the conviction rates of our courts, reduce the average case life, and ensure swift disposition of cases. In short, to punish more and punish swiftly. We have done these toward ensuring respect and obedience for the rule of law,” he said.
“We have done it before. We can again work together to strengthen the administration of justice and speed up the disposition of cases. JJELACC can again serve as the strategic response to criminality and disregard for the rule of law,” Pangilinan added.
While admitting that previous efforts have not been enough, the senator maintained that killing suspected criminals without due process was not just.
“Killing of suspected criminals is criminal. It is unjust. It is anti-poor. It is anti-poor because it has been the poor and powerless who are victims of these extra-judicial killings. It is anti-life,” he said.
“Every injustice, every extra-judicial killing diminishes us. The JJELACC can be instrumental in putting an end to these needless, undue deaths,” Pangilinan added.
The Philippine National Police has confirmed the killing of about 200 drug suspects in the government’s drive against criminality and the illegal drugs trade. Sen. Leila de Lima, former justice secretary and human rights chief, said she would file a resolution for an inquiry into the drug killings, noting the “telltale signs of summary executions” in a number of cases.
Duterte won the election on a platform rooted on a relentless war on drugs and criminality, including shoot-to-kill orders against drug lords and peddlers.
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