Slow pace of justice worsening

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For the longest time, the justice system in the Philippines was said to crawl at a turtle’s pace. Now, that situation has worsened to a very old snail’s pace.

There are cases that few are aware of, just as there are cases that are known to all. The Maguindanao massacre, for one, occurred more than four years ago, and the only justice that the families of the victims can look forward to is for the principal suspects to die of old age while remaining incarcerated.

Yet another case that has been festering for some time now does not involve a crime as grim as the cold-blooded killing of more than 50 innocent civilians, more than half of whom were practicing journalists who were only covering a valid story.

The case of Turkish ambassador to the Philippines Hatice Pinar Isik occupying a mansion in North Forbes Park may not have a direct effect on the majority of the people. But she has been asked to vacate the property by its present owner, a request that she has not only denied, but ignored.


This may seem to be a case of the rich and the powerful versus the powerful and the influential, but at its most basic it remains a case where an aggrieved party is seeking justice. The request to vacate has been festering for three years now.

At least it is not expected to last as long as the case filed against the Ampatuans, which one legal luminary said might not be settled for a hundred years.

This is beyond slow. This is an injustice.

The country’s courts are clogged, and little has been done to ease the bottleneck. Meanwhile, new cases are added to the ones that have been pending, while the country maintains the same judicial structure that plods along, seemingly with no sense of urgency.

To be fair, there were attempts in the past to ease the backlog. At the level of the Supreme Court, for example, then Chief Justice Hilario Davide ordered a faster processing of cases before the high tribunal.

The creation of the barangay quasi-courts also took care of “smaller” cases involving residents of villages. A neighbor who accidentally destroys another neighbor’s property need not file a case before a regular court, not without going through the barangay judicial system.

But it is hard to imagine a Zobel or an Ayala or a Montinola or any of the country’s super rich agreeing to settle legal differences over their properties with their barangay chairman. As for the Turkish ambassador, she does not fall under the influence of the local courts, and can easily cite diplomatic immunity. What then?

Relative to this, what about “smaller” cases involving foreign businessmen and tourists who are either charged with crimes, or who are victims of wrongdoing?

Last week, the local outlets owned by a billionaire operator of several online gambling sites were raided by the authorities. This will almost certainly result in a lawsuit, since the local operations were properly registered.

There is a saying older than all of us: Justice delayed is justice denied.

It is sad to note that in the Philippines, delayed justice is the norm and not the rule.

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3 Comments

  1. Part of the reason everything is so slow is down to the way you organise things. Here you give an affidavit, someone gives a counter affidavidt & so on. As with most things the philippines is behind the rest of the world. Its like it doesnt want to move forward. It wants to stay backwards. Your justice system needs a complete overhaul & the best way to do it is to get representatives from another country ( that does it right ) to come here & teach you the better way. Leave it to the pinoy it will stay as it is or get worse.

  2. wilmer andrada on

    I totally agree that the justice system in the Philippines stinks and is very slow. Can we have more circuit courts or appellate courts or probably enact some laws to make cases go faster.With this age of technological advances ,why are they operating with an archaic system. Probably the public should demonstrate and demand these turtles to do their jobs and duties at a faster pace..What are the reasons ? Is it political or just a delay tactic till the next in power comes in and gives them pardon..It is time for the public to demand action.

  3. There used to be a saying, ” JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED”. Now this does not exist anymore, which favors the plaintiff. One of the biggest problems in the country is the very slow adjudication of cases. Majority of the citizens perceived and lost trust in our justice system, plus the perception that bribery is the rule of the game.This is a confidence builder for those legislators and among others, that were accused of corruption because of the knowledge that they can bribe their way out of their case. God have mercy on all.