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Swift Justice in Boston, Someting You Hardly Ever See in the Philippines

You have to give it to American law enforcement; they really seem to have their act together. One of two explosions during the Boston Marathon that killed three and injured scores of people close to the finish lineWhen the horrific explosions occurred during the Boston Marathon it appeared almost impossible that whoever did it would be apprehended. But just a few days after that bombing incident, authorities seem to have cracked the case. One suspect is dead and another is now apprehended. Large swaths of the greater Boston area were on lockdown and door-to-door searches were conducted in the suburb of Watertown.

The swiftness with which US authorities seemed to have been able to get to the bottom of this tragic incident have left many here in the Philippines in awe. This is after all a country where justice seems to move at a grindingly slow pace. Woefully few cases get resolved in the Philippines, and even when police and investigating authorities like the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) occasionally manage to get suspects apprehended, cases languish in Philippine courts where judges on the take dispense justice based on which side pays them the most.

If the Philippines is ever to pull itself out of the rut it is in, its police, government agencies, and the courts will need to take their cue from places like Boston where law enforcement is swift and efficient. In Boston, residents willingly put up with the inconvenience of their city being on lockdown to allow police authorities to do their job more efficiently. When citizens know those designated to protect them are doing their jobs, they are wholeheartedly.

The legal maxim that says: "Justice delayed is justice denied" has been around at least since the Magna Carta of 1215. The Maguindanao Massacre for instance—a case that everyone thought was a “cut-and-dried” from the very start, has been languishing in court since 2009. The defense strategy seems to be to delay and stall the case till 2016, when a new president and changes in local and national politics takes place. Maybe at that point those in power can be “convinced” to take a more sympathetic stand towards the accused and possibly let them off the hook.

Many Filipinos look at what just happened in Boston and realize that the Philippines still has a long, long way to go. Tourists and investors may slowly trickle in but any influx will remain just that; a trickle compared to that of our neighbors. Unless we get our criminal-justice system to work swiftly and honestly, Filipinos can kiss goodbye any hopes of seeing the Philippines as anything but a third-world country, in their lifetimes. Published 4/20/2013


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