‘When will true justice prevail?’

Injustice never lasts forever. In Pilipino, we have this powerful expression— “May araw ka rin!”—which means “you will have your time or day.”  This is a warning to those who do bad things.  It warns them that what they do or did in the past will catch up on them.  It also implies that there is a price to pay for a wrongdoing that one made.

There is another saying in Pilipino that goes like this: “Ang talagang katarungan, ilubog at daganan man ng malaking batong silyarsapilitan ding lulutang.”  It says that true justice although sunk and pressed down with a big block of stone, will still float later on.

Justice will float later on.  This is exactly what many felt when theyheard the newsthat theSandiganbayan, the anti-graft court in the Philippines, found former first ladyImelda Marcos guilty on seven counts of graft related to private organizations created in Switzerland while she was a government official from 1968 to 1986.

ACT Teachers representative,Antonio Tinio,when interviewed by Rappler said that while some may argue that the conviction of Marcos, an 89- year old widowmay be a little too late,it is still sweet justice because a “guilty verdict is a guilty verdict.”

Although it appears that Marcos may never spend a single day in jail (and she might even overturn her disqualification fromholding public office), the Sandiganbayan decision in the eyes of people like Tinio shows that Imelda Marcos can still be held accountable and convicted by a court of law in the Philippines.

A “taste of justice.”  As the Imelda saga continues, just a week after Marcos’ conviction on seven counts of graft involving $200 million, Marcos was allowed to remain free on P150,000 bail by the same court that convicted her.

Supporters of the Marcos family even had the gall to decryand state that the family was experiencing “political persecution” and they evenquestioned the timing of the release of the Sandiganbayan decision.

Critics who were disappointed because she was not jailed also protested about the obvious— double standard in the enforcement of laws in the Philippines.

This is not the first time that we witnessed a double standard in the enforcement of laws in the country, particularly under this administration.

As they say, “If you are rich and politically connected, you can avoid jail but if you are poor you will rot in prison.”

How do we take that Marcos, who was, without doubt, convicted for stealing the people’s money, still walks free, while an ordinary citizen who steals food to feed his hungry children and family is jailed?

By the fact that after many years in court (the case against Marcos was filed in December 1991) by the Office of the Ombudsman, are we reading it right that the court needs to decide on her “motion for leave of court to avail of post-conviction remedies?”Is this right?

I remember the wisdom of former senator Jose W. Diokno when he said these words (during the time when the Philippines was under Marcos’ martial law: “Law in the land died. I grieve for it but I do not despair over it. I know, with a certainty no argument can turn, no wind can shake, that from its dust will rise a new and better law: more just, more human, and more humane. When that will happen, I know not. That it will happen, I know.”

Imelda’s conviction showed us that the Marcoses can be convicted in the Philippines.  But one question still remains— When will true justice prevail?

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California.  His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases.  Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio “Jojo” Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.