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Explanatory Note

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(as written in 2004)

The Preamble of our Constitution says: “ We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government, that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.”

However, contrary to these ideals and values set forth in our Constitution are the worsening commission of injustices, corruption, crimes, insurgency, human and civil rights abuses and poverty.

The U.S. State Department Reports on Human Rights Practices released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor cited the following:

1. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

“ The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) investigated complaints of extrajudicial killings and documented summary executions of civilians. The CHR reported that the 30% of the human rights violations involving deaths of civilians are alledgedly perpetrated by some unscrupulous members of the security forces. The war against insurgency also contributes to the high rate of unlawful deprivation of life.

1. Disappearance

Government authorities have failed to address complaints of victims families concerning the numerous past disappearances. FIND and Amnesty International’s Manila office continued to support the efforts of the victims’s families to press charges, but in most cases evidence and documentation are unavailable. Failure to

bring these cases to courts contribute to a climate of impunity that undermines the public confidence in the justice system”

1. Torture, and/or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits torture, and evidence obtained through its use is legally inadmissible in court, however, the reports indicated that some members of the security forces continue to use torture and otherwise abuse suspects and detainees.
.

1. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution requires a judicial determination of probable cause before issuance of an arrest warrant and prohibits holding prisoners incommunicado or in secret places of detention. The CHR investigated 52 cases of illegal arrest and detention. The TFDP documented 174 politically motivated arrests by the Government, the majority of which were carried out with warrants. The Government denied that there are political detaines or detentions.

“Official corruption is a serious problem in the prison system. There were reports that
detainees at some facilities were required to pay guards in return for some favors.

(Among the 63,000 persons incarcerated in the 7 national prisons and 1,250 district,
city, municipality jails, reports show that 92% of these persons have not yet been
convicted of crimes.)

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the reports alleged the judicial systems suffers from corruption and inefficiency. Personal ties undermine the commitment of some government employees to ensuring due process and equal justice, resulting in impunity for wealthy and influential offenders.

Legal Experts inside and outside the justice system criticize personal and professional relations between some judges and individuals or corporate litigants. Some lawyers act as “case fixers” gaining the favor of judges and other court officials and allegedly bribing some witnesses. It is illegal to settle a criminal case out of court. The practice of reaching an “amicable settlement” in which the prosecution drops charges is routine. Such settlements may result in impunity for wealthy or influential defendants.

The Reports further continued to identify the following areas which had been transgressed or violated:

1. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
2. Freedom of Speech and Press – The National Press Club, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and the Philippine Press Institute are all active in investigating cases of violence and harassment against journalists and broadcasters.
3. Freedom of Religion
4. Human Rights against women, squatters, prostitution, etc.
5. Unions

1. Poverty

“According to the most recent Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the riches 30% of families earned 67 percent of national income, while the poorest 30 percent received approximately 8 percent. The incident of poverty(measured as the ratio of those below the official poverty threshold to the total population) worsened and approached 40 percent. The incidence of poverty is more severe in rural areas, with more than 54 percent of the rural population unable to meet the basic needs. In urban centers, the incidence of poverty is approximately 25 percent.

(In November 2004, the Southern Tagalog and the Bicol Regions for the nth time (flash flood) suffered heavy losses in terms of life, property, economy and commerce caused by the denudation of forest by the illegal loggers.)

(Philippine External Debt - In March 2002, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported
an outstanding external debt amounting to US$52 billion. The Bataan Nuclear
Power Plant – identified as a recipient of fraudulent loan – contributed to the
Philippine debt crisis. In. 1970, the Philippine debt was US$1.6B. In 1980s, debt
was US$17.4B)

Administration of Justice

The Amnesty International reports:

“Defects in the administration of justice were highlighted by reports of torture, ill treatment of criminal suspects by police to extract confessions, extrajudicial executions of suspected drug dealers and others. Women in custody were vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse. Complaints procedures, investigations and criminal prosecutions of suspected perpetrators of human rights violations failed repeatedly to provide effective redress..”

These numerous violations and those unreported ,unlisted litany of crimes are the by products of CORRUPTION – THE MOTHER OF ALL CRIMES.

The Philippines, putting aside the Malolos Constitution in 1899, had drafted and ratified other three (3) constitutions:

1. Constitution of 1935 - Commonwealth Era

1. Constitution of 1973 - Pres. Marcos Martial Era
2. Constitution of 1987 - Pres.Cory Aquino Government to the present.

Amending the Constitution in a span of 38 and 14 years respectively, underline
the paramount need of reforms responsive to the changing times. In 1935, our framers adapted and patterned the salient provisions of the American Constitution of 1787. Being a republican and a democratic government, our statemen highly upheld the state values of the American democracy. The Americans for centuries had lived up and guided by their Constitution and their aspirations. Our framers in so doing envisioned the same thing. ONLY AND ONLY ONE THING THEY MISSED. They missed Article 111, Section 2, Paragraph 3, which says:

“The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committted; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.”

In the three (3) Constitutions, the Executive and Legislative had been amended in terms of tenure and compositions. Undoubtedly, such changes were tailored to meet the needs and crisis of the times. Incomprehensibly it may be, the Judiciary, for 70 long years remains unchanged. A democratic form of government to function efficiently and effectively is to keep the check and balance among the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary.

The Constitution delegates the authority to the people the right to vote in the election of the Executive, Legislative and the local governments. The right of suffrage is an active and direct participation of the people in the government.

The Jury, on the other hand, empowers the people to directly participate in the administration of justice. (An answer to the Amnesty International Report). With the Jury in place, the Judiciary can truly be strong and independent and the Balance of Power is maintain among the branches of government. Without the Jury, as what happened, is and will happen, the Judiciary is vulnerable to the influences of the Executive, Legislative, Military, the Insurgent, the worst even by the Vice Lords ( Gambling, Drug, etc.)

For generations, our judges had been threatened not only of their positions rather of their lives, families and properties. The Jury will support and reinforce our judges in the performance of their tasks thereby “acts as a sort of lightning rod for animosity that otherwise might center on the more permanent judge.”

The Jury “a Palladium of Liberty” serves as a barrier against tyranny, despotism,
corruption, abuses, and oppressions of the powerful. (Lysander Spooner, 1852)

This proliferation of crimes creates a society where the rich and the powerful live a life above the law while the weak, and the poor struggle to live a life. Where those in the government become Masters of the People not Public Servants, and where civil and human rights are oppressed and transgressed, democracy becomes a government of the few. Democracy and freedom are ruled by law not by men.
.
This Jury Campaign seeks to stop the corruption, injustices and crimes either in government or in our society. The Jury, for centuries now in England and in America and in other progressive countries has been a legal institution in deterring the commission of crimes with impunity, serves a shield against corruption, despotism and oppression and a safeguard for the civil liberties and human rights of the citizenry.

To this end, we , the Campaigners, the working class and the Filipino Overseas Workers wish to appeal to all Filipinos and friends of Filipinos to support the creation of a Philippine Jury System– Let it be our Legacy to the coming generations. Let us make the difference. Together we can.

SO HELP US GOD.

TIM SAPURCO, JR.
Founder

(For the latest update of the U.S. Department of State Report please visit www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006)