Fast and Fair Justice Needed

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Although the slow pace of justice in the Philippines has been repeatedly criticized, the verdict on the Julia Campbell case must be the blue print of how fast cases must be resolved. After more than year of investigation, confessed Benguet killer Juan Donald Duntugan, a 25 year-old woodcarver, was sentenced to 40 years in prison without parole. He was asked to pay P39 million in damages to the Campbell family.

“An attack made by a man with a deadly weapon upon an unarmed and defenseless woman constitutes the circumstance of abuse that superiority which his sex, and the weapon used in the act afforded him, and by means of which the woman was overcome and rendered unable to defend herself,” said the decision of Judge Ester Piscoso-Flor of the Ifugao Regional Trial Court branch 34 on June 30, 2008. Philstar (07/01/08, Lagasca, C.)

The monetary compensation seemed huge and the prison sentence apt, but we know the wasted life a US Peace Corps volunteer is more valuable. To compare, those who perished in 911 when terrorists blew up the Twin Towers got an average of $3.1 million from the government, insurances and charitable institutions. Julia Campbell who went missing on April 8, 2008 deserved more compensation. She had a rich and productive life ahead her—more than what the US Peace Corps might have envisioned when it was started in 1961 by Pres. John F. Kennedy:

“Coming from all walks of life and representing the rich diversity of the American people, Peace Corps Volunteers range in age from college students to retirees. Every Peace Corps Volunteer’s experience is different. From teaching English to elementary school children in Zambia to launching a computer learning center in Moldova to promoting HIV/AIDS awareness in South Africa to working on soil conservation in Panama, Volunteers bring their skills and life experiences to where they are needed most.“ http://www.peacecorps.gov

Be as it may, the verdict on the Campbell case brings a sigh of relief to the nation. Filipinos are pushing that other legal cases be handled expeditiously, particularly those involving crimes of citizens, irrespective of who the parties are.

There are still a lot to be desired with our justice system. It must not be too slow or too fast as Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo’s wishy-washy order (Inquirer,07/01/08, Dalangin-Fernandez, L.) that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) wrap up its findings on the Sulpicio Lines ferry tragedy in 10 short days. Critics suspect this haphazard unrealistic presidential edict as a form of political posturing which risks the proper carriage of justice.=0=

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