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FOR THIS REASON, we must have a Jury

FOR THIS REASON, we must have a Jury
By: Amy Balliao

On June 1, 2009, the Independent newspaper published an article relating to the Davao Death Squads (DDS), reported by David McNeill. In Davao there has been a killing spree that has claimed nearly 900 lives, including dozens of children. The mayor of the country’s second biggest city said they all deserved to die. “What I want to do is to instil fear,” he told reporters earlier this year. “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.” Mayor Rodrigo Duterte boasts that he has made this the safest urban zone in the country, because of this persistent effort. Condemnation and press coverage have failed to stop summary executions of what Mayor Duterte calls “society’s garbage” - alleged petty drug dealers, young thugs and street children. Vigilantes have murdered 894 people in the last decade, including at least 80 minors, according to the Tambayan Center for Children’s Rights, a Christian NGO in the city centre. The youngest victim was just 12. And the pace of the killings is increasing: 57 people were stabbed or shot in the first three months of this year — up from two in the whole of 1998. The killers escape arrest thanks to the tolerance and sometimes “outright support of the local authorities”, says a new report on the killings of Davao’s Death Squads by the US-based Human Rights Watch. “Impunity for such crimes is almost total,” it adds. The Human Rights Watch also says that the vigilantes are sometimes recruited from the ranks of petty criminals, are guided by police officers or ex-police; killings are often subcontracted. By the time they reach the street, they can reportedly be done for as little as 350 pesos (£4.60). Is this how much our fellow Pilipino life cost these days? It also ironic that few killers have been caught and not one of the murders has been condemned by the mayor, who used to read out names of “troublemakers” on his weekly TV show.

These are just a few of the detailed reports in Mr. McNeill article.

I was numb and angry when I had finished reading the article. It was chilling and abhorrent to say the least. Emotion runs through me, my mind is telling me - there must be someone responsible for these atrocities. Is it the parents, the government or the State in general? Is it the children themselves? These are the questions I am yet to find an answer to. Children who have allegedly broken the law should not be punished until proven guilty. These are children for heaven’s sake! They need love, direction, guidance and understanding —NOT execution when they commit crimes. Besides children are not going to commit crimes unless someone has taught or told them to do so. Henceforth, a proper investigation should be conducted first to determine if accusations are just. Whether these accusations are true or not, this is NOT the proper way to punish the guilty. The bottom line is this: underlying these problems is our imperfect Government system. Our representatives see politics as a career and business enterprise. As a result they are focused not on the betterment of the next generation but on the advancement of themselves. When the long-term problems are large and real, they repress us, mislead us, and divert us. Too often, our Government leaders are just enablers, co-conspirators in a disingenuous and greedy silence. Hence our Judiciary system is infected with flaws and clearly not working. FOR THIS REASON the Philippine Jury Campaign International (UK) is leading an initiative to install a Trial by Jury in our Judiciary. We firmly believe that there remains a hope to make our beloved country a just and humane society where people are free from fear. Where the Government is free from corruption and Justice is served where justice is due. The only way to make this happen is to empower the people in the administration of justice Do not let our future and our children's future go unrepresented. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of unity and renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. In addition, let us renew our faith and our hope. Let us be ready to act, ready to do what must be done to ensure that our Judiciary system must be free from the dictate of the politicians and the powerful. Our system must attain independence, openness and fairness in its operation and decision- making. It is imperative in a democratic government to empower the people in the administration of justice by creating and installing a Trial by Jury system Therefore, lets us all come together and support this campaign.

It is the sovereign right of all Pilipinos to enjoy a fair and democratic judicial system.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/ news/world/asia/tough-justice-onthe- trail-of-philippine-deathsquads- 1693692.html