Some hard questions to answer PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 14 July 2014 13:34

By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO

 

The Supreme Court has found Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong guilty of the charge of bribery in relation to the case of Kevlar helmets purchased through a Janet Lim-Napoles ( Oh, this woman has been busy!)  company.  The helmets were found later to be fakes and thus the case against Napoles. But Napoles was found innocent by the Sandiganbayan which took several years to resolve the case.  A case of bribery in this case was  filed against Justice Ong.

Subsequently the SC in a unanimous decision found that Justice Ong was guilty of bribery but (surprise!) was split in its decision as to the penalty - dismissal or suspension - for Ong. What is there to equivocate about?   A Sandiganbayan Justice is found guilty by the SC of accepting a bribe.  Surely that is not a minor offense that simply calls for a suspension from office.

To have a better understanding of the function of the Sandiganbayan in our country I Googled the topic.  In its own website it is said that the Sandiganbayan was created to go after corrupt public officials.

MANDATE OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN

SEC. 5. The Batasang Pambansa shall create a special court, to be known as Sandiganbayan, which shall have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices and such other offenses committed by public officers and employees, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations…

This is where my mind stalled. When a Sandiganbayan  justice is found guilty ( and in a unanimous decision)  of something like bribery surely that calls for immediate dismissal.  Otherwise how can the public trust his future decisions of finding people innocent who come up before his court ?

The news item mentioned that two SC justices who used to sit in the Sandiganbayan  did not join in the decision that found Mr.Ong guilty. I find that this is yet another case of the influence of  the ‘pakikisama’ value so common in our Filipino culture.  While this might be digressing, just reflect on the treatment being given to the “honorables” from the Senate who are now in detention. I need not say more.

I am aware that as Christians we are taught not to sit in judgment of  others but as I am often  reminded in reflection  we have this injunction all wrong.  “Judge not lest you be judged” means that we are not to think of ourselves as more virtuous than others. In the case of the SC justices and others who occupy similar positions, that is precisely what God has called them to – to sit as judges on the conduct of others as regards to the law that these others  might have violated.

What happens when the SC justices meet again on this Ong case and  they now come up with the decision, not to dismiss, but simply to suspend Sandiganbayan Justice Ong for the crime of bribery? How credible will the Supreme Court be to ordinary mortals like you and me?

How I wish these are easy questions to answer.