MANILA, Philippines — Through an imagined talk with human rights defender Jose “Pepe” Diokno, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday expressed her opposition to the Duterte administration’s “shortcut” justice in its campaign against crime that recently victimized youngsters.
In her keynote address during the unveiling of Diokno’s monument at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Diliman, Quezon City, Sereno said that if former senator Diokno were still alive today, he would stand up for human rights and the rule of law just like what he did during the Marcos regime because the problems that started during martial law continue now.
“Patuloy pa ring naghihikahos ang karamihan sa ating kababayan. Laganap pa rin ang mga dati na nating problema. Matindi ang pangamba ng mga ina at ama tuwing lumalalim ang gabi. Ibinubulong nila: Sana naman, huwag ang anak namin, huwag ang binatilyo naming pinakamamahal.”
[Majority of our countrymen continue to suffer from poverty. Our old problems are still widespread now. Mothers and fathers worry a lot when the night deepens. They whisper to themselves: I hope it’s not our child, not our most beloved teenager.]
Sereno said Diokno, founding chairman of the CHR, would say, “Sabihin mo na rin sa kabataan, na paalalahanan ang sambayanan: Ang paggalang sa karapatang pantao ay haligi ng Saligang Batas. Ito ang tinutukoy ng pambungad ng Konstitusyon na magdudulot ng tunay na katarungan at kapayapaan.”
[Also tell the youth to remind the people that respect for human rights is the Constitution’s pillar. This is what is being said in the Charter’s introduction that will bring true justice and peace.]
Also, according to the chief justice, Diokno would tell human rights violators, including those who kill minors that “their conscience would hunt them for every debt they owe the people.”
“Ganito ang mangyayari kung sila ay lalabag sa karapatang pantao, magnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan, o gagawa ng shortcut at isasantabi ang mga alituntunin ng kanilang trabaho,” Diokno would say, according to Sereno.
[This is what will happen if they would violate human rights, steal from public coffers or do a shortcut and set aside the rules in their jobs.]
Moreover, she said Diokno would likewise say that it should be clear how criminality should be addressed and how big-time criminals should be pursued and effectively prosecuted.
“Klaruhin mo: Dapat tugisin ang kriminalidad. At kung kailangang magbuwis ng buhay upang matupad ito, gawin ang kinakailangan. Ngunit siguruhin na ang lahat ay ayon sa batas.”
[You should make it clear: Criminality should be pursued. And if necessary, risk lives to fulfill this. But we should make sure that everything is according to the law.]
“Kung hindi, di-kalaunan ay ang mga masunurin sa batas na ang magiging biktima ng kapangyarihang walang takot sa Diyos at batas.”
[If not, it won’t take long before those who follow the law become victims of the powerful, who don’t fear God and the law.]
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