A Face off Between Theory and Reality of Equal Protection of the Law

This is a FB post that I have read from Juana Change’s (Mae Paner) wall. It is a press statement from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) pertaining to the unique treatment of Janet Napoles vis-a-vis ordinary Filipinos charged of crimes.

I hope this will enlighten us all.

Here is the statement:

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), like many Filipinos, is
extremely dismayed, appalled and disgusted at the apparent double
standard demonstrated by the Aquino administration in its treatment of
Mrs. Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged ringleader of one of the greatest
plunder of the nation, the pork barrel scam.

Contrast this to how the government, in the ordinary course of its
business as it claims, treats ordinary citizens, even activists,
accused of ordinary and even petty crimes, let alone false charges.

These ordinary people -the voiceless, shirtless, homeless and
“shoeless”-routinely suffer the brunt of usual police procedure (i.e.
brutality and indignities), cramped in subhuman jails where they take
turns to sleep on the floor or on makeshift materials, served food
worthy of swine, breathe air so infernal it makes one cringe,
denied of basic needs, denied of access to justice, denied of rights,
denied of humanity.

Case in point among the countless many is Mr. Rolly Panesa, a simple
security guard whom the military insisted to be a high ranking leader
of the NPA. Panesa was arrested, severely tortured, detained, shamed
in public, despite overwhelming evidence indubitably crying they got
the wrong guy. And those in cahoots to tinker with his ordinary life
were laughing all the way to the bank because of the P5.6Mbounty.

Being a simple Filipino, he had no access to top government officials,
much less step on posh palaces. He only had his innocence and the
merits of his case supporting him, and the outrage of decent hard
working Filipinos and human rights defenders behind him. He obtained a
favourable court decision a few days ago which issued his writ of
habeas corpus, confirming that indeed it was a “mistaken identity” –
only after 11 months. And how is he going to get back his old life?

As officers of the law, we maintain that the rights of persons, even
of persons accused of high crimes, be upheld at all times. But this
spectacle that the Aquino administration is showing, in going the
extra mile in order to ensure that everything is alright and nice and safe and comfy with Napoles, even prematurely and erroneously
considering her as a potential state witness, is obscene and shows
great insensitivity to the feelings of ordinary Filipinos. Hold on,
for a moment there we got confused who was the accused and who was
not.

Shame.

We profoundly thank the Aquino administration and all those falling
all over themselves at the beck and call of the likes of Napoles for
unabashedly smashing again the false notion that there is such a thing
called equality before the law in our society.

——-

I will be also airing my thoughts on the apparent special treatment of Janet Napoles and my encounter with the plight of one woman (during my immersions) who was jailed for failing to pay a debt of 41,000 pesos and being charged with estafa.

See you on my next post.

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