Privilege Spits(January 3 to January 9, 2011 issue of Dyaryo Magdalo)
By TOTO CAUSING
In my burning desire to change the country’s present fiscal-judge system of justice, I am now taking the liberty of analyzing the cost of maintaining a jury system similar to that of the United States of America (USA), know how it can reduce corruption that runs now in the Philippines at 20% of the national budget, and know how much can the country save from the thieves in the government.
I was prompted to go to this dissertation by a Facebook friend who insisted that the Philippines can never ever afford to have a jury system because it is very expensive.
I agreed that it was very expensive. However, I begged to disagree that being expensive does not mean it is not economical.
The result of my dissertation, as will be read hereunder, shows that the cost of running a jury system in the entire country reaches only to Php 60 billion and the additional jury education program entails only Php 20 billion.
The total cost of Php 80 billion is far lesser than the Php 160-billion savings that can be gotten from the reduction of corruption due to the jury system’s nature of being a far better rigid justice system that is too difficult to be manipulated by the racketeers, the thieves in the government, and the lords.
Thus, the cost: Php 80 billion. The savings: Php 160 billion.
So, here is my dissertation on this matter of economics of the jury system.
Let me begin by saying that if the amount required to run the jury systems is "very expensive" as you describe, it does not automatically mean it is not economical.
Amongst us who are civil engineers, we may choose one option that demands triple expense when the lifespan is at least triple more than any of the other choices.
A better economic strategy I know chooses from what options that stimulate the more number of transactions in a given period of time; what ensure bigger returns from these transactions in terms of taxes paid to the government and in terms of incomes going to participants in the transactions; what attract more number of people participating in transactions in a given community; and what make the number and magnitude of transactions going and growing.
Eventually, good economic decisions must be founded on what result in most number of transactions with biggest number of taxes along with bigger number of persons involved. The more transactions, the more taxes to the government, the more and better services are given by the government to its people, and the more people are exchanging goods and services and monies, and the more people are employed or earning income.
One community for instance has a total of 100 million pesos if we sum up all monies in each person and in each entity (business unit such as a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship).
Assume that the government in this place is capitalism and not socialism that has more regulations about how the funds shall be controlled, or not communism that ensures each individual therein is as rich or as poor as each other.
Assume further that this capitalist place cannot compel individuals to spend because it believes in free market and as such it relies only on the willingness of each of the people to spend or invest as they wish.
Now, we know that transactions cannot happen without buyers or without those that are obliged to pay by reason of deals.
With these givens, if we want progress for all we prefer a system of government that brings about more people buying services and goods in a year so that: (1) more taxes (sales, evat, and income) are collected in one tax year; (2) more businesses have better chance to continue to live and grow consequently resulting in generation of more employment; (3) more chances that people are employed to make them acquire wealth in the form of incomes as fruits of their labor in order to empower them as having more buying capacity to, in turn, acquire goods, services, better education, etc; (4) more people becoming more creative in thinking what to do to make decent profits; and (5) more people continue behaving in the way what the laws want them to conduct in relation to each other and in relation to their government.
Assuming this government has achieved these desirable economic activities to happen, can this ideal economy continue without strict justice system that compels people to behave by the laws? I strongly believe it will not stay as ideal with a loose justice system that chooses to vow to those who are the wealthy and the influential.
Despite all these sought-after objectives to give real progress for all people, there are always things that go out of hand. This is because there all always people who “greed” for money or sex, “desire to seek glory” either in wealth or politics, err in the performance of duties and the exercise of rights, or commit improprieties simply because of intoxications like liquor that loosen the hold of morality over intoxicated persons, or fall on accidents and or else can we think of.
Co-existing with these negative matters that any society, rich or poor, cannot avoid, is the NATURAL DESIRE to avoid punishments.
And this natural motive among persons to evade liability breeds and grows a culture of corruption if only to escape the harshness of hell behind bars, if only to preserve reputation, or if only to escape paying out for liabilities incurred.
So that if the justice system can be bought or influenced, the situation in this place will deteriorate over time, sooner or later, into the culture of impunity bad as what Maguindanao has reached.
Thus, I argue: even if we begin to create a country with all citizens having One Million Pesos in their respective pockets but with loose justice system such as what we have for 110 years, we will still end up as one of the poorest and most chaotic countries in the world.
Before continuing, let one more truth be spoken: crimes are offenses against the state so that it should be the state’s obligation to ensure justice is served where it is due.
Where lies our country:
Now, take a scenario of the Philippines where, approximately, 10% of the people are holding 80% of the total country’s monetary wealth while 90% are fighting for shares of the remaining 20% of all monies.
Look at our country.
Our country is where the justice system for over a hundred years is composed of fiscals deciding as to who should be charged in court and the court with one judge. It has been modified over time that the Ombudsman now has the sole power to bring to court corruption cases and the Commission on Elections having exclusive power to bring to court election crime offenders.
Thus, you see Malacañang man Joc-joc Bolante not getting charged in court by the Ombudsman; or former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garciliano not charged in court by the Comelec for vote rigging.
Our country is where over time we have seen decisions of trial courts overturned by higher courts and where higher courts give out decisions that amused the people.
Our country is where we often hear songs crying out for justice from inside our prison walls, as echoed by Freddie Aguilar’s “Katarungan.”
Our country is where one can hear countless of songs of freedom for these songs are born only where liberty is restrained and where injustices are aplenty.
Our country is where judgments are more based on opinions than evidence as proven by Hubert Webb case where they were convicted upon the opinion of the trial court only to be acquitted 15 years later by another opinion of the court, this time the Supreme Court's opinion.
Our country is where we have seen more and more economically-lower-classed citizens becoming more and more mistrusting in the justice system because their common experience point to the poor rarely getting the better end of justice.
Our country is where the poor and have-nots prefer to suffer the pain of injustice in silence than to fight lords who not only buy fiscals and judges but also kill more if only to ensure freedom to kill, to steal, to cheat in political contests, and to do what else.
Our country is where the poor absolutely have no fair chance at courts of law.
Name what you want and we are on the nadir of all the ebbs, of all the law tides.
Taking a deeper look at justice economics:
Thus, the question now is: JUST BECAUSE IT APPEARS THAT JURY SYSTEM IS EXPENSIVE, DO WE HAVE TO DISCARD IT BECAUSE OF THE GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES WE HAVE AS STATED ABOVE?
On what scale should we measure to choose a justice system to use given the circumstances the Filipinos are in?
Shall we have a “cheap” court with one judge and one fiscal deciding almost everything, for or against the accused, depending on the availability of funds, just because of the circumstances the Filipinos are in?
Shall we continue with this “cheap” fiscal-judge justice system where the supposed “learned” (pronounced as “learn-ed”) in law have, as is normal nowadays, been taking advantage of the citizens’ ignorance of the law, just because of the circumstances the Filipinos are in?
Shall we keep the “cheap” status quo even though we have heard so many people complaining of injustice and inability to obtain fair game in law, just because of the circumstances the Filipinos are in?
Shall we prefer to resign to this “cheap” status quo just because of the circumstances the Filipinos are in?
Shall we continue to argue that “it is not in the system but the people in the system” even though we know that it is actually more of the system because we cannot avoid the people who are prone to fall to dishonesty, greed and worldly desires, just because of the circumstances the Filipinos are in?
This is my appeal: Please look deeper as to what can this big expense give us in return.
Haven’t we thought that by using the jury system we are employing more people and that this will remedy the yearly problem of millions of college graduates from every private and state colleges and universities found now in every province and that problem is how to find jobs? And in so doing, more people are empowered to buy to add taxes to the government and income to others to generate more employment.
Haven’t we thought that by using the jury system it is doubly stricter and doubly rigid against influence and money such that more and more people would think they cannot fool the jury (grand and trial juries) so they tend to think it is better to behave well and refrain from fooling, stealing, and harming others?
Haven’t we thought that with strict and rigid justice system the number and magnitude of corruption incidents may likely reduce by as much as 90%?
Can we not blame extremely-high corruption incidences and magnitudes in the Philippines on the lax justice system for a century and a decade?
“The Philippines has been ranked as among the world's most corrupt by, among others, the Berlin-based non-governmental organization Transparency International. Corruption has become so widespread here that that scandals coming out one after the other dominate the news. Worse, many of these scandals are linked to Malacañang Palace and the first family. President Gloria Arroyo was perceived as the most corrupt in Philippine history in a survey done by Pulse Asia in 2007.
“Corruption has diverted away whatever meager resources that could have been extremely helpful to alleviate the lives of poor Filipinos. The Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC), a government body tasked to investigate and hear administrative cases and complaints against erring presidential appointees, has revealed that in the Philippines, an average of 20 percent of the country's annual budget goes to corruption.
“In 2008, the national budget was PhP 1.227 trillion (USD 26 billion). The budget for 2009 is pegged at an all-time high of PhP 1.415 trillion (USD 30 billion) as the government wants to boost spending to shield the economy from a global slump. A provision in the bill requiring reporting transparency was recently taken out by the government despite congressional and media protests.
“PAGC chairperson Teresita Baltazar says the money lost to corruption "could have been a lot to fund spending for social services like education, healthcare, housing and livelihood capital, and infrastructure."
Looking at the average 20% of the national budget, it means that based on the 2011 national budget of Php1.6 trillion the cost of corruption necessarily goes around Php 320 billion.
The projected savings from corruption through jury system:
So that if the implementation of the jury system reduces corruption by only 50%, does it mean a savings of Php 160 billion?
Based on the nature that it is a far more rigid system of justice, the jury system will cause a reduction of corruption incidences by at least half the present number in the Philippines where the latest national budget approved by President PNoy is at Php 1.6 trillion.
This is guaranteed and supported by the experience of countries with jury systems. There in the US, corruption is an exception; decency in government service is the rule.
In the US alone, you can see plenty of state and federal senators and congressmen getting charged and convicted by the grand jury and trial jury. You saw then President Richard Nixon compelled to resign because of the grand jury investigation. You saw then President Bill Clinton vowing to get investigated for oral sex scandal in the Oval Office by the grand jury and getting impeached in the US Congress.
In the Philippines, jail time comes to a senator only when he rebels as in Senator Gringo Honasan and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV; like Senator Panfilo Lacson had been charged only because he was ganged up by the then incumbent administration's men but he is wise enough to seek cover.
In the Philippines, you see ex-President Joseph Estrada getting charged and jailed just because the President's men ganged up on him.
In the Philippines, the whole of the Ampatuan lords in Maguindanao were charged all because Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was compelled by the world outrage over the killing of 58 persons including 33 journalists. But if she chose to ignore these outpouring of outrage, nothing would happen. Even now that the Ampatuans are held, only one of them is facing trial yet while the rest have succeeded in forestalling the reading of the charges: what with Php 2 billion a year looted from the coffers of the Province of Maguindanao as reflected in the very recent report of the Commission on Audit. Under the Philippine jurisdiction, one cannot be convicted if he has not yet been read of the charges in court.
Thus, in the Philippines, it all depends if the President desires to help you in order to have a good fight at the prosecution offices or the courts. And if the President does not know you, say "Goodbye, justice."
The projected expense of running jury systems:
Now, imagine how much is needed to run a jury system in a province. Assume that in each province we have one grand jury consisting of 23 jurors and 2 alternates.
If each is paid Php 1,000 a day, they get Php 20,000 a month. Multiply this by 25, we spend Php 500,000 a month in salaries. Add to this Php100,000 more a month for the maintenance of the staff and offices so we spend Php 600,000 a month. Multiply this by 13 months in one year (13th month pay law), we need to spend Php 7.3 million in one year for each province or urbanized city for the maintenance of the grand jury, the body whose members hidden from the public shall decide who should be tried in court or not. By the way, grand jurors' name and faces are hidden to ensure they are independent and not afraid of deciding who to bring to court or not.
NOW, consider trial juries in all six branches of RTCs and about six MTCs, assuming that all courts will have 600 cases to be tried each year by a jury of 12 ordinary Filipinos and 2 alternates. As the long and rich experiences in other countries show that jury trials last in one to two weeks in the average, assume P30,000 cost for each juror to answer for hotel and security escorts. Multiplying, we get 30 x 14 = P420,000.00 for each trial. Multiply this by 600 cases we get: Php420,000 x 600 = P252 million a year.
With these budgetary estimates, in one province we need to spend Php 7.3 milion + P252 million = Php 259.2 million.
In Maguindanao alone, one of the poorest provinces in the country, the Commission on Audit found that the Ampatuans stole Php 2 billion or Php 2,000 million a year. This means that even the poorest province can finance the cost of running a jury system unit.
Let us look at a larger scale.
We have 79 provinces. Add 33 highly-urbanized cities to be considered having own separate jury system and we get a total number of 112 jury system units.
To know how much would be spent for one year in the entire country, we compute: 112 jury system units x 259.2 million expense for each unit = Php 29.0304 billion in cost.
Now add to this 20% buffer fund to answer for unexpected costs and yearly infrastructure constructions. We get around Php 35 billion in total cost to be spent for the jury system.
Compare this cost to the savings that will be earned from reduction of corruption: Php 160 billion in savings from corruption vs Php 35 billion in cost of running the whole jury systems.
Now, to ensure better understanding of the system among all tribes, use Php 20 billion each year in jury education projects for every province. Yet we have too plenty of money to spare.
Now, consider also the fact that in civil cases, it is the losing party that will pay for the jury costs.
Do we see a trend of civil suits reducing sharply just because those who know they have no defenses or evidence to prove their claims are afraid to shoulder the cost of the jury?
Yes, it will because the civil case litigants will tend to save the most and they can do so by resorting to compromise agreements or settlements to reduce the dockets of the courts instead of opting for a jury trial.
Looking at these hard facts, can we now turn a blind eye to jury systems for Filipinos?