We need a legal revolution

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Sunday, August 10, 2014

REGARDING the law of the Old Testament Christ has said: the law is made for men not men for the law. That means that man is higher than the law. However, man has to respect the law because the law is made for his own good. When the law is used against his good then he must resist the law.

The law has always an intent. Its intent is the welfare of people. When the law is used against the welfare of the people then it has to be rejected. The intent of the law is to do justice to the people. When lawyers and judges manipulate the law so that justice to the people is delayed then those lawyers violate the intent of the law because justice delayed is justice denied.

This is what is happening in our judicial system all the time. It is high time for a legal revolution. Our Constitution is written for the welfare of society. So one must not follow the Constitution precisely as it is written; the correct way is, to follow its intent and to interpret it in a way that is best for society. Law is the servant of society.


The law is not an end in itself. I believe that intent of the law should also be what must guide judges in all cases. Our present judicial system is so dysfunctional, it can take, not just years but decades to resolve even the simplest cases, let alone the major ones. Some, like the cases involving the Marcoses, never get resolved.

Another thing is that the Philippine court system is grossly underfunded. Its budget covers the jails we have been reading so much about recently, which are just simply inhuman. The amount of P 30,- is allotted for a meal. You can’t even buy a cup of brewed coffee with that.

In the field of the economy and business, justices have made far too many decisions that were just plain wrong. Several business chambers in the Philippines are trying to work with the Supreme Court toward a better understanding of business so that more knowledgeable decisions can be made.

Clearly there is a need for a so-called “business court,” a court that is ruled by a judge with business experience. The business sector is very important for our society. Poverty is eliminated by giving people jobs. Business creates jobs.

In January 2004, the justices ruled 8-5-1 that the mining act was unconstitutional. In December they reversed that ruling 10-4-1, showing that the Supreme Court has the discretion to decide either way. Its second decision was pro-business, benefiting the country. Its first decision was not.

It is time to shift from strict adherence to the words of the law to the intent of the law and to that what is best for society. This needs a revolution.

I got some of these data from a columnist of Inquirer, Peter Wallace, a foreigner who is living in this country and doing business here for quite some time already.

In the field of the law itself, can judges be bribed? That would be outrageous. Take the case of the Maguindanao massacre which is going on already for 5 years and there is no end yet in sight. Private and public prosecutors are endlessly quarreling with each other about futilities, thus prolonging the case and subverting the truth. The defense lawyer, who by the way must be making a fortune by doing this job, knows what is the truth, that Ampatuan is guilty like hell and yet tries to prove that he is innocent.

Again, we need a revolution in our judicial system.


[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 10, 2014.


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