ANYONE with a sense of justice would need – more than want – to see a lot of people in jail. If true justice were to prevail, would there be enough cells, wardens and jails to hold them? Specially if they were to receive the red carpet treatment. And how long would they last in their gilded cages before their fellow-inmates ganged up on them, to dispense their kind of justice? (A former prosecutor estimates that more than 50 percent of the prison population are, as they claim, innocent.)
An unjust justice system or judiciary is only one of the consequences, unintended or not, of largescale, pervasive, deeply rooted corruption. Corruption sees to it that there’s not enough money – we cannot afford to be just? – not enough public defenders for the poor, not enough forensic pathologists and experts, not enough cops and detectives, not enough judges and courtrooms, not enough of anything, quality- and quantity-wise, to give a fighting chance to those presumed innocent before they are unfairly locked up – almost permanently, and even then, when they are due for release after an undeserved sentence, there’s always bound to be a bureaucratic delay somewhere. Level the playing field for the guilty and the not-guilty? It’s not a phrase 50 percent of jailbirds know the meaning of or expect.
A friend who works in the Senate and had expected a “revolution of the middle class” arising from the kasambahay law that was sprung on them from out of left field was laughing heartily at his own “mistake.” After the Luneta picnic of pork haters, he said last week, he’s now revising his forecast. The revolution, he said this time, “will come from the pork barrel.”
I don’t want to see a revolution and I don’t want to see more innocent people kept in perpetuity behind bars. As lawyers say, better to let 100 guilty men go free than send an innocent one to jail. But in the meantime, as the memory of the sinking of a ship in Cebu with 700 passengers on board is perilously close to a fade-out, let’s not forget that one shipping line has been so unlucky that its voyages have claimed close to 6,000 lives since 1987. Unlucky? No one has gone to jail, not then and not now.