“For me, there are many signs that reassure me that we, in the DOJ, are, in fact, doing something worth doing in pursuit of something worth having. Gaining the nod of the Commission on Appointments based on 4 years of actual track record was one, but, ironically, so is the fact that people are coming out of the woodwork seemingly keen on transforming the Department of Justice into a toothless tiger.
“It is truly a wonder why it is now, when the wheels of justice are actually turning, when the veil that hides the corruption that has gone all the way up to the highest echelons of power has been lifted, that there are calls to declaw the DOJ by, among others, removing from its ambit the administration of the Witness Protection Program (WPP), allegedly in order to insulate it from partisan politics.
“Where, pray tell, do they intend to place it? In the legislature, which aside from the fact that its role under the Constitution is to legislate and not execute laws, is itself, by nature, not immune from partisan politics? In the judiciary, whose role is to impartially adjudicate cases and, therefore, by nature, will be prejudging a case if it also administers the WPP? Or, perhaps, in another office within the Executive? If so, what was wrong with the logical and reasonable placement of the WPP under the DOJ in the first place? Especially considering that it is the Department mandated to prosecute criminal cases and, therefore, is the most logical administrator of the WPP, as it is, in fact, the case in other jurisdictions, including in the United States?
“It's truly curious because these people never had a problem with the WPP being under the DOJ all those years when no case as high-profile as the PDAF and Malampaya cases had ever been filed. Likewise, I recall that certain people never had a problem when Hold Departure Orders and Watch List Orders were being issued by the DOJ, but it suddenly became an issue when the subject was the very same former President whose own alter ego, her own Secretary of Justice, who ironically issued the Department Circular that governed the issuance of such Orders.
“Apparently, it is alright to place powers in a DOJ that does not do anything noteworthy about such powers, and merely exercises them over 'ordinary' citizens, but not the privileged, the wealthy, the influential or powerful. When it is exercised under the same terms on the latter, then, it becomes taboo; then, it becomes oppressive rather than reasonable. Therefore, they have just acknowledged that their definition of justice is subject to double standards: the law for the rich is not the same law applicable to the poor; the rights of the underprivileged are not the same as the rights of the powerful; there are first-class citizens, and second class citizens; depending on one's social, economic and political status. In other words, they liked it better when nothing was being done to correct the tainted status quo that has diseased our nation.
“That is what these attempts to defang, declaw and silence the DOJ is all about. And I take them as proof that we are doing our job; that we have succeeded in stirring up the proverbial hornet's nest. And, for that reason, I am mvigorated to pursue these cases rather than back down.
“I am not, however, blind to the possibilities that power can be abused and misused, but if the answer is to take away power, we might as well abolish our government and live in anarchy because any power placed in the wrong hands can and will be abused and misused. Hence, the answer is not to take away power, but for the people to be vigilant in exercising their own power of oversight over their elected leaders and their appointees. That is just one reason why I likewise encourage the active participation of the private sector - the business sector, the youth and even religious orders - to do their part in keeping public servants in line and in helping them achieve our collective goals.
Please visit www.doj.gov.ph for the Full text of the Secretary’s Speech