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ROUGH CUTS: Finally, justice for Roxas bombing victims?

AFTER four years of court deliberations the victims and the families of the bloody September 2, 2016 bombing of the Roxas night market in Davao City finally get the justice they long wanted.

This came about after Regional Trial Court Judge (RTC) Marivic Vitor found the ten persons accused of perpetuating the heinous attack guilty and sentenced them to life in prison. But unfortunately for the families of the victims, while their quest for justice succeeded, it seems it is a victory still wanting. For how could it be a total justice when only seven (7) of the ten (10) accused are in police custody and the remaining three are still at large?

And there is still the strong possibility that they are out there mingling with the people assuming new names and ready to execute another deadly undertaking when ordered by their leaders or see the opportunity as defined by their twisted sense of belief.

Worst, even as the goriness of the attack that killed some 15 people and maimed and injured about 70 others, the court only found the accused guilty of multiple and frustrated murder, and serious physical injuries. So it would seem that the court did not find the attack an act of terrorism. In other words, the anti-terrorism law then in effect at the time of the commission of the crime had not prescribed the circumstances in the attack as part of the law’s definition of terrorism.

This assessment by the court could probably be the reason why the attackers are sentenced to life imprisonment, plus payment to the victims’ families the cost of civil and moral damages.

The problem though is that the conviction is still by the lower court level. What if the families of the convicted accused through the help of the organizations they belong or are working for, will appeal the conviction to the higher courts? The likelihood is that it may take years to resolve the appeal. And what would perhaps be more frustrating is the possibility that the higher court’s appreciation of evidence, would find the same insufficient and thus create reasonable doubt? If this happens, the families of the victims in that Roxas night market bombing would end up finding their justice bag empty.

Really, it is a situation like this that we cannot blame some of us giving credence to this particular post in social media that says: “In the Philippines the leading enemy of the people is their own system of governance. It allows so much freedom for interpretation of laws in our legal system making our judiciary at times interventionist than a fast dispenser of justice. Our governance system works on a Constitution that guarantees all aspects of human freedom through the Commission on Human Rights but which Commission is more overt in its defense of the rights of known criminals and terrorists.”

Whether or not the authors of the social media posts are correct in their observation is something that could be a subject of endless debates.

What is certain however, is that both the victims and their families on one hand, and the accused on the other, all resort to the judicial process to be accorded justice – rightly or wrongly.

As to the case of the families of the dead victims as well as the survivors of the Roxas night market bombing, they may have won a judicial battle with the conviction of the accused. But their war may not be over yet. The accused after all, have their own rights to be served the kind of justice they may think denied them. And surely they have the means – financial, influence, and most of all, the power to intimidate.

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Last Wednesday, September 30, 2020, the Department of Education (DePEd) Region XI, through its spokesman former broadcaster Gemelito “Dodong” Atillo, announced with some degree of certainty that it is “all systems go” for the opening of classes in public schools come Monday, October 5, in this part of the country.

Atillo though, admitted that despite the “all systems go” there will definitely be initial “birth pains” as the systems to be used in teaching this school year are literally new in the country. According to our former colleague in the broadcast media, while on-line learning as well as the modular scheme are not totally alien in the Philippines, these are in general, new processes as applied on a national scale.

We totally agree with our fellow alumni at the Radio Mindanao Network’s (RMN) Vigilantes news and commentary program in Davao City years back. There are some known hindrances in making the new learning methods work one hundred percent responsive to the needs of the Filipino learners.

In the case of the on-line classes, one big bar for its full success is the ratio in the number of computers and other related gadgets to the actual number of students. We can personally safely assume that it does not even reach a 50-50; meaning fifty percent of enrollees have their own gadgets, or the most, have access to such learning equipment.

Another is the percentage of the total area of the region that is reached by existing telecommunications signals, much more have electricity to operate the gadgets if some of the students in those areas have.

Also, how many of those enrolled in the region are lucky beneficiaries of the government’s (local and national) lending program of laptops, smart cellular phones and notebooks so they can participate in the on-line classes?

On the other hand, until the writing of this column, the DepEd XI spokesman said that it is still hoping to complete the printing and distribution of lessons modules by Saturday, October 3. Now, would it be hard to imagine the difficulty of meeting such a self-imposed deadline?

We only need to take into consideration the geographic condition of the regions, and even Davao City alone. We can also easily look into the percentage of the population residing in both the rural and urban areas. Through the latter situation we can already imagine the hardships in distributing and retrieving the learning modules.

Well, as the saying goes, “The taste of the pudding is in the eating.” So, the wait will not anymore be long. By next week, let the new learning systems begin. By then we will surely know whether it works or not; or whether its “birth pains” are bearable and can be provided with some kind of “relievers” and eventually the needed “cure.”

“Let us to see.”

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