"Justice for Paco".. run: A point
Shortly after the dreaded vigilantes fell their first few defenseless victims with the murderous volley of their guns, I wrote on the subject. When I reasoned on the side of the constitutional presumption of innocence, I thought that I ran true to the off tangent nature of this column. I surmised then that the majority of our people virtually applauded the quick and steady elimination of society's dregs. They probably perceived it was the best way to achieve peace and order by closing their eyes to the fact that the vigilantes resorted to criminality itself! Having said my piece and realizing that my point found acceptance in the hearts of decent men, I resolved to leave the issue to the learned and civilized and not touch it anymore.
The other day, I saw an event harboring some concerns parallel to this despicable vogue called vigilantism which prompted me to revisit the issue. That event was the run called "Justice for Paco". What I saw on tv was a group of people trying to touch the hearts of the Justices of the Supreme Court to reconsidering their decision on imposing death on the persons publicly accused as the rapists/murderers of the Chiong sisters. Theirs was an unorthodox but admittedly effective way of arresting public attention. mmm
At the bottom of their line was and will continue to be, "due process of law".
I applaud Fr. Reyes and Mr. del Gallego, the persons I saw at the front of the run, for their advocacy. Terror is not their rule. By electing to support the families of Paco and company avail of all judicial remedies, they have shown that justice is opposed to violence. Guns are not the tools of Reyes and Gallego. Their extra-judicial processes, unlike those of the vigilantes are allowed by our fundamental law. Their act, "palabas" to the detractors, is a guaranteed freedom of expression. Upholding the supremacy of the law can never be wrong. More so on their part because absent any consideration like blood relations with Paco and company, their only gain would be a strengthened faith in our constitutional processes.
The "Justice for Paco" run is, in fact, a demonstration against summary executions. The Larraņagas and the other families involved in this case have marshaled their forces in allowable battle grounds - the courts of law. Yes, they lost the initial judicial rounds but, they are not adopting the mentality of the vigilantes.
In the bar of justice, they continue the fight. Believing that the Supreme Court erred in meting death sentences on their children, they make such noise as to push the high court into reviewing the case with heightened care.
Let us back track a little. We could say that the Chiong family, by their resort to the courts of law to prosecute Paco and company relied upon our judicial system. Ranged against perceived mighty opponents, they felt that justice could be achieved though the heavens would fall. No short cuts. Retribution was not at their disposal. It was not their mind to execute summarily the persons they thought wronged their daughters.
It was good there were no vigilantes when the Chiong sisters suffered a gruesome crime. I recalled that the public was led to a lynching of the kind not dissimilar to the cry for blood of Jesus Christ as Pontius Pilate washed his hands. There was an outcry against Paco and company stoked by many an irresponsible rumor. What if, there were vigilantes then who, taking upon themselves the misguided task of cleaning our society, murdered the accused personalities? Justice and truth, which the Chiong family on one hand, and the Larraņagas, Aznars, Fr. Reyes and Mr. del Gallego, on the other hand, are searching for, would have been irreparably wrecked in the senseless altar of the vigilantes.
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