Last Monday, September 17, we were again in downtown Davao City to have our follow-up medical check after we were operated on last August 3. Our agreement with our son was that he would pick us up at a coffee shop inside a Bajada mall since he could not wait for us at the hospital. He had to buy some items for his snack shop’s requirements.
So, after having ourselves checked by our doctor we proceeded immediately to our agreed rendezvous. And lo! We did not expect to meet our former colleagues while we stilled worked with the government, as well as a common friend with them. We missed seeing each other for quite a long time already. Thus, there was some high-pitch degree of elation during that Monday unexpected meeting.
We joined them at their table and soon enough a cup of steaming hot coffee was served to us. What then was expected to happen but to take notice of each one’s either balding head, or thinning and graying hair. The reminiscing of our shared past was of course nostalgic as expected. After we were settled, a sober mode of discussion on some relevant social and political issues in the country immediately followed. Our sharing this time was already frank and open and there was no iota of fear compared to the time when we were fellow government employees since it was the martial law era.
Along the way our group could not help but express how we missed a fellow friend, the late lawyer Noe Laguindam who had gone ahead of us to the great beyond. When everyone was already composed we started talking about local governance in the city, the crime situation, our diverse political persuasions and of course how we view the performance of our bureaucracy under the present regime.
Then, one in our group who has an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) daughter in the Middle East brought out the topic of the just sentenced Kuwaiti youth who was accused of raping, killing and abandoning her body in the desert. While in the past the Philippines had brushes with the Kuwaiti government over the issue of mistreatment of our OFW, he claimed he was amazed at the speed with which the case was acted by the Kuwaiti judiciary.
Yes, the rest of us confirmed in our friend’s observation that the speed with which the prosecution was done was indeed amazing and unexpected. Though most of us were one in saying that the sentence may not be commensurate for the crime that was perpetuated by the Kuwaiti youth, we all agreed that justice to the victim and her family was achieved in record time. Imagine the crime was committed only last January of this year and the cases were filed immediately soon after! It took the Kuwaiti courts to render judgment in only eight months.
This former co-worker of ours in government suddenly came up with a somewhat raised voice saying, “One of my cherished dreams for our country is that of a judiciary that can approximate that of the Kuwaiti’s; one that espouses integrity and values.” He added that he “envies the Kuwaiti judicial system with its speedy trial of the accused.”
Indeed, we believe that our former co-employee in government has all the reasons to be envious of the Kuwaiti judicial system. Imagine the crime was committed on January 22, 2023 and the verdict was rendered on September14 of the current year! If the same case happened in our country, he said, the trial could possibly drag on to as long as five to ten years, even fifteen if the accused has the money and can afford the services of a good lawyer, or know his way around towards some gullible magistrates.
What a huge difference, our friend continued with his comparison while taking a dig at Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla and the Congress Justice committees who all proudly brandish around that the Philippines has a “functional judicial system.”
This fellow coffee aficionado, or so we think, shared his view that perhaps the Justice Secretary and the legislative committees in Congress may have thought the majority of us Filipinos as “naïve” simply because we are “quiet” and “accepting” of what is being told us by those in government.
At that juncture though, even as the conversation was turning into interesting exchanges of opinion, we saw our vehicle stopped in front of the coffee shop. So we had to seek permission to leave as the day was wearing out and more customers were already casting their disgusted looks on our group who occupied a long table and us getting noisy. However, we assured the rest of the group that it was not the first and last of our meetings over cups of coffee.
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