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The perception of the rule of law in the country has diminished due to unresolved killings of drug suspects, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said yesterday.
Breaking her silence on the issue after seven months of the Duterte administration, the Supreme Court chief lamented how their efforts to improve the perception of justice in the country through judicial reform initiatives suffered a setback due to the killings over the past months.
“Despite all of these positive things and even greater potential gains, we have to face the reality of the daily accounts of unsolved killings, many of them committed brazenly with public warnings against drug pushing or addiction. It is not surprising, therefore, that the perception of the rule of law in our country has swung from marked improvement to a downgrade,” she said in her speech during the 68th inaugural meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) held at a hotel in Makati City.
Sereno cited the drop in the country’s ranking in the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index from 51st place in 2015 to 70th place last year as an “indicator of the serious erosion of trust in the criminal justice system, in the civil justice system and in regulatory agencies.”
She lamented that the ranking of the Philippines in the index already improved from 60th place in 2014 due to judicial reform programs of the SC, including the crackdown on corrupt and erring members of the judiciary that led to dismissal from service of a Sandiganbayan justice and 16 trial court judges in the past four years.
The drop in perception of the rule of law in the country calls on all three branches of government and independent constitutional bodies “to reflect on how they have been discharging their roles in a way that has brought about this state of affairs,” Sereno explained.
Sereno further suggested to the pillars of the criminal justice system – the judiciary, Department of Justice and its attached agencies and the Philippine National Police – to work together and come up with genuine change.
“It is only when institutions faithfully comply with what the law requires can we experience long-term stability as a country even beyond changes in administration. At the same time all institutions involved in the administration of justice are duty bound to proactively report to the people the improvements they are trying to carry out in their areas,” she stressed.
Sereno also vowed that the efforts to reform the judiciary would be relentless.
“If you believe that the judiciary leadership is sincere, what I will ask of you in return is to continue to believe in the rule of law,” she appealed.
From July 1, 2016 to Jan. 25, there have been over 7,000 deaths linked to the “war on drugs” – both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings, including deaths under investigation.
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Read more at http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/01/26/1665610/sereno-unresolved-killings-weakening-rule-law#mhLqczWBdlBW8cMd.99