Crime and punishment


A TRICYCLE driver in Davao overtook another on a bend and ran smack into an oncoming truck, killing him and his passenger. The driver of the truck was jailed and charged with homicide thru reckless imprudence.

A jaywalker who refused to use the pedestrian overpass was fatally hit by a jeepney. The jeepney driver was jailed and charged with homicide thru reckless imprudence.

Many persons who were evidently merely defending themselves got jailed when they either seriously injured or killed their assailants.

These are instances of patent miscarriage of justice. It’s no consolation to the accused if they are assured that they would eventually be cleared by the courts, not while they’re languishing in jail and in need of legal counsel. Even if they do get cleared later on, the criminal charge filed against them will be entered in their police record.

There might be need for legislation which will authorize police not to file charges against persons when it’s evident that they’re not at fault. I had a nephew who collided with a jeep that was overtaking another vehicle on a bend. The driver of the jeep was a minor who didn’t even have a driver’s license. These circumstances didn’t matter to the police more than the fact that the young driver died. My nephew was charged and we had to bail him out. He had to borrow for his legal counsel. These problems need not have happened to him had there been a proper evaluation of the evidence by police authorities.

Perhaps, police authorities don’t believe it’s in their province to determine whether a person is guilty or not. They may believe this properly belongs to the courts. Yet, police have such a power in other places, even in the United States. There, a driver who injures or kills a pedestrian who wasn’t using a nearby crosswalk isn’t charged by the police. The same goes for a person who kills another in self-defense. We can lessen the load of the courts of this practice is followed in the Philippines. Just to make sure that this power isn’t abused, a law can be passed imposing sanctions on policemen who unduly clear a person of any crime.

Come to think of it, even cases of physical injury are often resolved wrongly. When a person suddenly darts into the street and gets sideswiped, he’s entitled to financial assistance by the motorist. It doesn’t matter that he’s at fault. What matters is that he got injured and the person who injured him must pay. I remember a case in Las Vegas where a jaywalker survived a car accident. The car suffered damages and the jaywalker was asked to pay for the damage. Worse, she was even charged with traffic violation. Thankfully, the latter charge was later dropped.

While we are on crime and punishment, there should be more safeguards against the use of minors in crimes. The usual practice is for the minors, who usually have their birth certificates with them when arrested, to be remanded to the Department of Social Welfare and Development that doesn’t have the facilities for a halfway house. The minors usually escape from the DSWD to continue with their involvement in crime.

I still believe that just because an offender is a minor is not enough reason not to mention his name or print his picture or not to jail him. As the saying goes, he who commits adult crime should serve adult time. There are many cases in the US where minors committed horrible crimes and were charged as adults. They’re identified, are jailed and are in handcuffs when presented to the courts.

The United States can do this because they have sufficient facilities strictly for youthful offenders. In the Philippines where budget officials and lawmakers are more interested in getting their share of the pork, not even a centavo has been allocated for the construction and maintenance of holding facilities for young offenders.

Back to tandem votes
The proposal to vote for the president and vice president as a tandem is effective only if the political party system is strengthened. At present, there’s no political party strong enough to field a complete ticket, thus the need to coalesce with others. The problem is that the vice president who may belong to another party and the two parties might go separate ways in the next presidential election.

Incidentally, friend Bert de Guzman of Balita made a correction on my previous column. The party of Vice President Jejomar Binay is United Nationalist Alliance (Una), not United Nationalist Organization (Uno.) Sorry for the slip. I stand corrected.


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  1. Confused Frightened Forgeiner on

    As a Westerner who lives here I have been taken advantage of by taxi drivers and avoided even more that demanded set fares 30 to 40% of what I know it should cost to get somewhere.

    It is frightening to know that if one is forced into a position to defend yourself from bodily harm you are just as likely to suffer at the hands of the police as you were by the criminal!

    There seems to be no “Rule of Law” and traffic regulations have been suspended due to lack of interest! Is it a result of corruption or what? Is this a civilized nation?

    Things do not appear to “Be more fun in the Philippines”. My advice to friends and family is to not vacation here because of the dangers both from the criminal elements and the government authorities that one would normally seek assistance from if you became a victim of crime. What a shame!

  2. Larry Ebersole on

    I think what we have here in Philippines is what you can call “socialized justice system” where the one perceived to have the money to pay, will be asked to pay no matter who is at fault.Well with the exemption of the rich and powerful of course. very sad indeed how justice is being enforced.

    speaking of pedestrian overpasses, there are places where the traffic managers or traffic aid as we call them are themselves the one’s allowing the pedestrians to cross the road under the pedestrian overpass..what can you say about this?

  3. In an incident 5 years ago a young lad ran out in the road I did an emergency stop. but he ran on and hit my motor bike. A case was taken out against me, his family tried to get me to settle out of court for 50,000 peso. I did not pay of course because it was not my fault. I did ask for the hospital and medical receipts they of course could not supply them as the boy was not injured. The case got thrown out of court the judge says it was a waste of courts time argue over a 200 peso fine. That is the fine for hitting a pedestrian.

  4. Ive said this from day one since i got here & whoever made it this shows how stupid that person was. Even the stupidest brit could see this is so stupid yet it seems the cleverest person in the legal system in the philippines for year after year couldnt see this. I know if it was a politician or his sibling driving & had the exact same accident they wouldnt be charged. Mind they wouldnt be charged even if they were in the wrong.
    A friend of mine used to do school trips & they had 3 coaches full of students going to subic but on aguinaldo highway a motorcycle was driving on the wrong side of the rd without lights ( it was dark ) & he was drunk, the 1st bus swerved out of the way & missed him but the 2nd hit & killed both guys. He was jailed when again it was no fault of his whatsoever.
    I think the lawyers here are useless also as they can see it but they say nothing.
    All things like this &many more make me so angry but the average filipina isnt bothered as long as he isnt involved. The minute he is affected he wants the world to know.

  5. i am amazed at how police and courts interpret the law. take the case of motorcyles. if you happen to have an accident involving a motorcycle or tricycle, the police and the courts will tend to side with the motorcycle driver. and the funny thing is that the motorcycle driver thinks that he is correct coz he is only driving a 2 wheeled vehicle and the 4 wheeled vehicle is at fault. this happened to my nephew who was sideswept by an overspeeding motorcycle. the investigator convinced my nephew to just pay the motorcycle driver P500 even if he is not at fault