– dysfunctional system, or effective crime deterrent?

By: atty benji

In Bulan, or in Sorsogon, in particular, do you think criminal justice system is OK?
How about the police? The Prosecutor? The Court? And the Jail or Correctional?

I would recall a year ago during the debate re, abolition of the death penalty law in the country, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo believed that “strengthening the five (5) pillars of the criminal justice system is a more effective crime deterrent than the death penalty law”.

Reinforced by her alter ego’s statement, “So if we are able to address these five pillars of the criminal justice system, this is the most, more effective deterrent than capital punishment itself. That is the point of the President,” Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said.

As an ordinary citizen, I would categorically swear that as long as there are so called SCALAWAGS IN UNIFORMS (police or NBI), Corrupt and Biased Public Prosecutors (fiscal), HOODLUMS IN ROBES (judge or justice) and inefficient and substandard Correctional system manned by rascal government men, we can all conclude that criminal justice system in this country is totally dysfunctional and ineffective channel of justice, and would not be a crime deterrent as well.

When a criminal justice in a particular country is rotten and decomposing (forgive the word), there would be no end to the victims of injustice/s to cry out loud for justice until the end of time, “Justi-is sabi nila, dahil bulok ang sistema!”

What is a Criminal Justice? – It is the system of practices, and organizations, used by national and local governments, directed at maintaining social control, deter and controlling crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties. The primary agencies charged with these responsibilities are law enforcement (police and prosecutors), courts, defense attorneys and local jails and prisons which administer the procedures for arrest, charging, adjudication and punishment of those found guilty. When processing the accused through the criminal justice system, government must keep within the framework of laws that protect individual rights. The pursuit of criminal justice is, like all forms of “justice,” “fairness” or “process,” essentially the pursuit of an ideal.

There are actually five (5) pillars of criminal justice system, as follows; (1.) Community, (2.) The Law Enforcement, (3.) The Prosecution Service, (4.) The Courts, (5.) The Correctional Institution.

If one of these pillars is dysfunctional, “wala tayong maasahan na hustisya!”

The five (5) pillars of the Philippine Criminal Justice System have important roles to play in the investigation, prosecution and dispensation of justice of the alleged offenders or felons.

The first pillar is the COMMUNITY ( e.g., People & People’s Organizations). It refers to institutions, government, and non-government agencies and people’s organizations that provide care and assistance to the victims or offended party, during and after the onset of a victims’ rights case. The “community” has a significant role to assume in all the phases of judicial involvement of offender as well as the protection process: the prevention of abuse, cruelty, discrimination and exploitation, assistance of offenders who enter the criminal justice system and the acceptance of the offenders upon his reintegration into the community,,, after he goes out of Correctional.

The second pillar is LAW ENFORCEMENT (e.g. PNP, NBI, PDEA, etc.) It involves government agencies charged with the enforcement of penal laws. It is primarily responsible for the investigation and determination whether an offense has been committed, and where needed, the apprehension of alleged offenders for further investigation of the third pillar,,, Prosecution Service.

The PROSECUTION SERVICE (Public Prosecutor or Fiscal) refers to the National Prosecution Service (NPS). The NPS is mandated to investigate and prosecute penal violations. It collates, evaluates evidence in the preliminary inquest investigation and dismisses or files the case in court as indicated.

The Public Attorneys Office or private defense counsel, on the other hand, serves as the defender of offender who is charged before the court and unable to hire the service of the retained lawyer.

The fourth pillar is the COURT (MTC, RTC) )which refers to the MTC and Regional Trial Courts designated to handle and try the case and issue judgment after trial.

The fifth pillar is the CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM (NBP, CIW, BJMP) . It refers to institutions mandated to administer both correctional and rehabilitation programs for the offenders. These programs develop the offenders or convicts’ abilities and potentials and facilitate their re-integration into the community and normal family life.

The rehabilitation and recovery process involves the support of government agencies, non-government organizations and most importantly the family and community so that the offender as well as the offended can heal and recover in order to be able to cope and rebuild their lives.

NB: the fifth pillar is formerly called PRISON or PENITENTIARY, it is now called a CORRECTIONAL (e.g. Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong) because the purpose of the law is to correct and rehabilitate the convict as productive citizen of the country, after he goes out of prison, as he will commingle or return to the community to live a new life as a normal person, not anymore as an ex-convict.

Suppose1: the people (family of the victim) refuses to cooperate in the investigation of the case, then the police would not be as effective to perform his job to arrest the suspect, thus, the first pillar of criminal justice system would be ineffective or dysfunctional.

Suppose2: the people (or family of the victim) or victim herself fully cooperated in the investigation of the case that led to the apprehension of the suspect, but later on the police, thru negligence or bribery, has just allowed the suspect go free and evade arrest, thus the second pillar of criminal justice system is also dysfunctional or rotten.

Suppose3: both the victim and police had worked together closely in the investigation, and actual apprehension of the suspect, however during the preliminary investigation stage conducted by the fiscal, who acted partially and moved for the dismissal of the case due to alleged lack of probable cause, however upon inquiry it was found out later that he did receive a bribe money from the suspect in exchange of a favorable resolution, thus, the third pillar of criminal justice system would also be dysfunctional and decomposing as well.

Suppose4: the victim, police and the fiscal have done their work par excellence and were able to present a strong case in court, but judge, who handled and tried the case, renders a decision acquitting the accused as he did receive monetary consideration from the other party, or thru “pakikisama”, or he is a “compare” of the accused, thus, the fourth pillar of criminal justice system is likewise dysfunctional.

Suppose5: the accused was finally convicted via fair and impartial trial, thru the cooperation of the aforementioned pillars, thereby giving justice to the victim of the crime, but when the accused was formally delivered and turned over to the correctional institution to serve his sentence, but instead of being corrected and rehabilitated therein, said convict was tortured and man handled, etc. (thru mental & physical torture), thus, the last pillar of criminal justice system is also dysfunctional.

To be able to strengthen an effective criminal justice system, all these pillars must perform and deliver their respective job par excellence in the realization of justice. Failure of any of the pillars aforementioned to function well will lead us into chaos and other forms of unrest in the community, because the government that is supposed to be the bulwark and vanguard of peoples’ right will serve nothing but a traitor to its own people, unable to protect the rights and interest of its citizens.

Last year, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)- a Hongkong based, launched a new report describing how the rotten criminal justice system in the Philippines fails to deliver justice to its people and contributes to the widespread human rights violations in the country.
“The criminal justice system of the Philippines is rotten”, describes how the police and courts fail to investigate and solve various human rights violations because of the lack of sincerity, despite well-established institutions on papers. It calls for the government to reform the criminal justice system and fulfill the promises it made to the Filipinos in the laws.

The report analyses why the criminal justice system in the Philippines fails to function. It identifies as including “command irresponsibility”, the non-existent witness protection programme, the bias of state officers towards victims and their families, and the irregularities in investigation and prosecution .

Flawed and misguided criminal investigations.

The police are the first and biggest obstacle to victims and their families obtaining justice in the Philippines. Where family members and witnesses come forward, they often find that police investigations contradict their versions of incidents. Police investigators sometimes make premature pronouncements about the motive for a killing and its cause, flatly rejecting alternative suggestions, particularly where state officers or persons allegedly connected to them are among the possible suspects. And, due to existence of scalawags in uniform, kotong cops, hulidap cops, that unless these scalwags in uniforms are eradicate, if not obliterated, the Mamang Pulis and Aleng Pulis ambitious project of P/Director General Sonny Razon would only mean nothing but just a scrap piece of garbage program which cannot be complied with in good faith by his men, or else, it will remain as a joke like, “Mamang Pulis-Pulis T…… Matulis.”

Non-existent victim and witness protection.

Most victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines have had threats on their lives beforehand; some already having survived earlier attacks. Those who seek protection are frustrated by the unresponsiveness of state agencies that supposedly have obligations to assist in such instances. Many end up dead.

The failure of the witness protection program must be attributed squarely to the rotten condition of its implementing agency, the Department of Justice. Public prosecutors, who are its officers, have also failed in their duty to refer witnesses for inclusion in the protection programme. Even in the most serious cases of extrajudicial killing, torture and disappearance, they are not known to have made recommendations and applications for protection.
Ineffectual and biased prosecutors
Public Prosecutors make little or no attempt to conceal bias in their handling of criminal complaints.

The extent of bias is again best illustrated by the head of the Department of Justice himself. Secretary (Raul) Gonzalez has gone out of his way to defend the government by flatly rejecting legitimate grievances about the inability of the authorities to stop extrajudicial killings, referring to them as “black propaganda.” He has adopted the language of the military and insinuated that unseen forces have taken advantage of the situation as “one way to destabilize the government” by way of creating lawlessness within the country, thereby putting the government into shame in the international community: as if the government was not sufficiently adept at creating lawlessness and putting itself to shame.

That Secretary Gonzalez feels safe in making open presumptions about the guilt or innocence of persons lodging criminal complaints and indicating that the extent of assistance given by his department depends upon what conclusions are drawn by its officers as to the merits of the complainant rather than the complaint speaks volumes about the rot at all levels of the criminal justice system of the Philippines.

Labeling “enemies”

Under section 14(2) of the Constitution of the Philippines “the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.” In practice the public labeling of accused persons or victims as “communist fronts,” “destabilizers,” “enemies of the state,” or “terrorists” negates this presumption and allows officials to do away with due process. The double standards in implementation of laws are most obvious in cases where such labels are applied. The use of labels also exposes victims, their families and colleagues to the possibility of further violence, and denies them any hope of protection. Once a person or organization has been labeled “leftist” or “enemy” then there is no possibility of safety. Whatever they may or may not have done, they are in a special category of persons and groups guilty by suspicion, for who the ordinary laws and procedures, to the limited extent they operate for everyone else, are suspended.

JUDGE must be impartial and free from influence, like a Lady Justice (na may piring at may hawak- hawak na timbangan).

For instance, we have hoodlums in robes… who based their decisions not on facts and evidence presented during the trial but on some other considerations such as, camaraderie with the litigants, brother or sister in the law fraternity/sorority, compare, or thru “pakikisama”…. or the worst is when the decision is rendered in favor of the highest bidder…

Maybe, President GMA was correct in saying that “these five pillars of criminal justice system to become effective as crime deterrent, the same must be strengthen, and be addressed properly”,

….. otherwise, we will all go to the dogs!

……or better still, in the quest for justice, the victims will resort to the law of the jungle in order to get the justice they deserve, (or the law of survival of the fittest, according to german philosopher friedrich nitzche, that “only the strong must survive, the weaklings must be eliminated”)


Categories: Atty. Benji's Column, Bulan Municipal, Education, Politics

33 replies

  1. to Atty Benji on The Criminal Justice System in the Country

    Thanks for explaining the Five Pillars of Criminal Justice. It is excellent on papers but enforcing and implementing it is another story. The very same people that were supposed to implement and inforce it were the same people that trample and violate it. There is no respect of Laws in this country. I am not referring to everybody because there are a lot of people out there that are very patriotic and law-abiding citizens. I am referring to the people that were given the power to implement the laws of the Criminal Justice system. As long as there is that old way of thinking like the compadre system, the pakikisama system, the bribe system, the egotistic and macho system, then we can get away with the crime attitude, the use of money and lagay. We, the People, will always be at the losing end of the judicial system. When the Five Pillars of Criminal Justice System was created, the intention was to protect the rights of the accused and the victim/s. A fair and balance execution of the laws. But it had been abused for decades in favor of whoever can give the highest bid or lagay. When will we have Justice? When will the injustices to the people stop?

    Dora the Mouse

  2. You mean that laws in the Philippines are meant to protect the rich but punish the poor? A poor vendor gets fined, a poor grocery store thief driven by hunger ends up in Muntinglupa while a national plunderer in the capacity of Joseph Estrada , a man who fondly called himself as champion of the poor, gets pardoned even if he had announced that he would not accept pardon for it would mean for him admission of guilt. You see, our “elected” presidents were and are the one making it hard for the millions of Filipinos and the one responsible for destroying our values and institutions. There is no wonder when people (or even a mouse like Dora!) would ask about the advent of real Justice in our country, or whether these five pillars of criminal justice still hold and support Justice in the Philippines or if Justice has long been without these Pillars, fallen down and buried in the pit. But no doubt, a good work atty.benji for we have promised to “Never give up!” and to continue our fight for progress despite all these mess.

    jun asuncion

  3. Atty. Benjie’s essay is very informative. My take on this, however, can be summed up in the words of PNP Chief Vidal Querol in the first few days of April 2006 which I quote: Kung hinoholdap cellphone niyo, ibigay niyo na lang para di kayo masaktan!

    This simply means that we should not expect the PNP to protect us because in the very first place, they seem not to be aware that their duty is not to wait every payday for their salaries but to PREVENT criminalities, CATCH criminals, PROTECT the citizens and ENSURE peace and order. Preaching the citizens to give their cellphones to hold-uppers is a way of saying “Wala kaming paki at wala kaming magagawa diyan. So kung gusto niyong mabuhay, pagbigyan niyo na lang ang mga holdaper”.

  4. To quote J.A. Carizo’s recollection on PNP Chief Vidal Querol’s statement in the first few days of April 2006: “Kung hinoholdap cellphone niyo, ibigay niyo na lang para di kayo masaktan!”

    What a funny, shocking, or shameful statement coming from the Chief PNP himself! Hopeless or inutile na nga ba ang ating kapulisan sa paglaban sa krimilidad? Naturingan pa naman na PNP Chief si Querol, buti nalang hindi niya sinabi sa publiko ang ganitong kataga, “Kung ginagahasa kayo wag na kayong pumalag o kaya’y manlaban, pagbigyan niyo nalang para hindi kayo masaktan. In short, buhay kayo, kung nanlaban kayo baka mapatay pa kayo”.

    Kapag ganito ang mentalidad o prinsipyo ng ating kapulisan, saan kaya patungo ang bansang ito?

    Let me remind him (Chief Querol) and the rest of the policemen and other law enforcers the FUNCTIONS / DUTIES of the POLICE in the community.


    Three functions:

    Even though we refer to the police as law enforcement officers, the enforcement of criminal law (in other words, investigating crime and apprehending criminals) is only one of several functions that the police perform. The functions of the Philippine (& other police forces in the whole universe) police include providing basic social services, maintaining order, and controlling crime. (… this function is universal in nature)

    • In the area of SOCIAL SERVICE, the police help people who need emergency assistance, whether it is giving first aid, or finding lost children, etc, etc.

    • Among the ORDER-MAINTENANCE activities are traffic control, crowd control, etc.. The focus of order maintenance is on handling situations to preserve the peace rather than enforcing the letter of the law. The appropriate order-maintenance solution may be making an arrest (for example, in case of domestic or street violence, e.g, riot or street fighting).

    • In the area of CRIME CONTROL, the police engage in a range of activities, such as Patrol and Criminal Investigation. But not limited to the following functions, among others, such as,

    1. To identify criminal offenders and criminal activity and, when appropriate, to apprehend offenders and participate in later court proceedings.

    2. To reduce the opportunities for the commission of some crimes through preventive patrol and other measures.

    3. To aid individuals who are in danger of physical harm.

    4. To protect constitutional guarantees.

    5. To facilitate the movement of people and vehicles.

    6. To assist those who cannot care for themselves.

    7. To resolve conflict.

    8. To identify problems that are potentially serious law enforcement or government problems.

    9. To create and maintain a feeling of security in the community.

    10. To promote and preserve civil order.

    11. To provide other services on an emergency basis.

    Factors shaping police work:

    Several factors shape what the police do. TWENTY-FOUR HOUR AVAILABILITY broadens police contacts with the public. People call the police because there is no other agency available. The AUTHORITY TO USE FORCE stamps police work with a uniqueness that sets it apart from other lines of work. Force includes the right to use deadly force, to arrest people, and to use physical force. Whatever aspect of the police mission is emphasized—whether it involves checking on suspicious persons who appear to be out of place or responding to reports of crime—the police have to be willing, in the last analysis, to threaten force and to back up the threat with action. DISCRETION leaves an imprint on all areas of policing. Police are often free to choose among alternative courses of action or inaction. They routinely rely on their own experience, training, common sense, and judgment to make decisions involving the life and liberty of citizens. Examples of discretionary decision making include decisions involving arrests, traffic tickets, deadly force, and domestic abuse, etc. In each of these situations, officers determine whether or not to invoke the power of the law.

    Factors influencing discretionary decisions:

    The SERIOUSNESS OF THE CRIME and the STRENGHT OF THE EVIDENCE affect an officer’s decision to arrest. The more serious the crime and the stronger the evidence, the more likely an officer is to make an arrest. A SUSPECT’s DEMEANOR also makes a difference. The more disrespectful and the less deferent a suspect acts toward an officer, the more likely that officer is to USE FORCE.

    Thank you J.A. Carizo for your nice comment.

    Mabuhay ka!

  5. thanks for the very informative essay on the five pillars.i badly need it for my research.i’ve been browsing through other sites but this one is the most helpful.

    it didn’t come as a surprise that informations like these should come from the website of the government and not from blogs, right?but then again, when the government cannot do it for its people, the people has no choice but to act for themselves.

    thanks a bunch again!mabuhay po kayo.

    btw,bulan in ilocano is “moon” so i was wondering while opening this site,what does the bulan have to do with the five pillars?hehe thanks po ulit.

  6. To red,

    Yes, the Philippines is too big for such an inefficient and corruption-infested central government in Manila. This is the argument that speaks for federalism in the Philippines. Each state will have less to do with Manila, thus the people in each state becoming more independent, responsible and self-reliant. Bear in mind that the island of luzon alone is much more bigger than over a hundred countries in the world like Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Taiwan, Portugal, Hungary, Belgium, Ireland and many more. They are smaller yet progressive. A smaller nation is easier to manage. Mindanao alone is a wasted piece of naturally-rich island, also bigger than many countries in the world. It is the faulty political system in our country that makes the Philippines sick and poor.
    Now about the moon or Bulan and the five pillars.
    The moon above doesn’t need these pillars for there is no injustice up there. Our town Bulan needs these pillars for there are always injustices wherever there are homo sapiens. Attybenjie can explain it better for actually this is his article and jurisprudence is his specialty.
    Thanks for your visit-and best regards!

    jun asuncion

  7. its good very informative. im a political science graduate and im now active member of the pnp.

  8. This is very informative, it increases my knowledge about the five pillars,,, I am about to take a PNP exam this October 25 maybe you can post some questionnaires of past exams or some testing strategy and hints for the exam. I will surely appreciate your help…. Thank you

  9. This essay is very informative and resourceful. You’re right if our system of Criminal Justice system will be disfunctional it will be useless. As a Criminologist I know how this 5 Pillars of Criminal Justice System works. If one of these Pillars will be eaten by our roten system of the Government or what I mean those scalawag, corrupt officials the system will not be helpful. It is a shame that we have this kind of officials especially in our law enforcement but we should not generalize; we still have good officials who serve our country with fear of God. I love reading this essay, I hope you continue posting this informative essay. It is a big help to us specially to the students. Do you have your own site? thank you. (Italics edited)

  10. I want to leave one comment, i just want to say that laws are ways to control or guide everyone of us who would like to express, talk, act, prove what is right.
    One thing i want to say about, maybe it’s because of pride, each of us is not perfect. Sana makuntinto tayu kung anung miron tayu. Gusto ko sanang mapakilala sarili ko kahit sa kunting paraan, mula nung bata pa ako puro laru lang alam ko.. ……………………… i wasted much of my time.. ngayun nalaman ko marami akung magagawa sa mundo, maraming nangangaylangan ng tulong pisikal at finansyal,. kahit sa kunting paraan mapakita ko na makakatulong ako sa lahat..
    I decided to be a Policeman someday…
    Good Bless.

  11. how does Philippine criminal justice system works?

  12. i think mali yan!

  13. i am a student and i want to know about the role of community in the CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM . how the community performs its role for the criminals which are already back in the community……………
    for those who can give me a complete information, pls help me and send it in my Email account…………….

  14. i am now studying criminology at MISAMIS UNIVERSITY and i need it for my additional information about this matter

  15. salamat ng marami bout the info..

  16. …i graduated criminology and now i’m taking up masteral..gusto ko magpulis pro nadidiscourage n ako…

    • HINA ng rationale mo igan, wag u na lang ituloy magpulis wala ka firm and strong decision, fail ka sa leadership, PNP job confronted always by worse scenario needs outright decision and judgement and action takes always an accountability think for this if you are qualified for this requirement, if not it is better for you to quit bro.

  17. very nice!. very well said! two thumbs up! this was written 3 years ago and nothing have changed..

  18. very well explained

  19. thanks for the information about the 5 pillars of criminal justice system 🙂 I really need it for my research. SALAMAT PO ..

  20. DAYAG
    Thanks for the information po…needed lng po sa research amn z CAT…..
    (^_^) GOD BLESS U PO

  21. sir ?can you explain more about the court pillar??..thank you and good day !

  22. very interesting blog… better late than never to read this.. I’m well informed about the subject….. thanks much!!

  23. You have my sentiments with Federalism Mr. Junasun. I am not that expert when it comes to Politics or Governance but I’l go with Federalism simply because of USA being a model of that form of government. I believe that it is not only the form of government that needs to be changed. There are a lot of factors to consider in order to build a better Philippines but there is only one solution that I can think of for now, We law-abiding citizens of the Philippines should never stop doing what we need to do in order to build a better society. We should continue our excellence in every actions that we make for our society.

    I am a Registered Nurse and aspiring to be one of the best in PNP.

  24. I agree with the reality of our governance today simply becoming more worst than ever.
    What we can do is to stay committed to one unifying goal and be an active participant in the community. Stay updated and keep learning, what’s worst is that our opponent our well literate.
    We can help from the ground up by making a self reliant community, each doing their part and not relying only to others to check and balance. We must never fear to speak up and make query. Dispose the usual mentality of “Bahala na sila” when until time comes that it maybe too late. Simply put as, it only takes one bad apple to jeopardize the whole batch.
    I know this is an ideal thinking but realistically not that simple. I can only vouch what I can do for my community and hope others might as well to the same.

  25. how to apply as police if you are registered nurse without taking the napolcom exam

  26. thank you for this very informative essay.
    i really need this one for my lecture tomorrow.
    i was able to browse some essays, and so far, your essay is the best.

  27. I am studying now in criminology at CMI central mindanao institution first batch criminology thank for imformative essay in 5 pillars of criminal justice system to increase my knowledge for studying in criminology, i want to know how more imformative in 5 pillar of (CJS)

  28. good evening sir/ma’am my i ask question about the objective and primary duties of community in the criminal justice system. very need po para sa reporting namin tomorrow…….. tnx.tnx,tnx,tnx, a lot!

  29. To @attyBenji:

    I’ve learned a lot and most of the time agreed upon your opinion. Thank you for writing this articles. Also, for sharing the notions not only by facts but also based on the reality which is actually happening. I want to read more articles from you. God bless!

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