NEWS: “The poor deserve more than crumbs of justice”- Chief Justice Puno speaking in Justice on Wheels Tagum sortie

sept 7

TAGUM CITYSupreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who visited this city on Friday for the Justice on Wheels mobile court program, stressed on the need of the judiciary to bring justice near to the doorsteps of the poor saying that “they deserve more than crumbs of justice.”

Speaking before judges and lawyers from Davao City, Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte, the chief justice said that given that poverty has been a crucial issue in accessing justice in the country’s legal system “justice if it is allowed to be bias, it should be bias in favor to the poor.”

He reminded members of the judiciary in the provinces on the greater task of helping achieve equality not in rhetorics but at the very least in the country’s justice system.

Puno added that amidst the “currents” that presently erode the rule of the law in the country, such erosion has been caused by the incapability to protect the poor who suffer most during socio-economic crisis handled by the overprivileged in the society.

But he said that “so long as there are citizens and groups who fight for the rule of law, we need not lose hope.”

The chief justice himself supervised the delivery of the Justice on Wheels (JoW) for the two provinces which made its sortie at Mankilam this city.

At least five inmates from Compostela Valley, who have been serving jail terms for about 14 years already due to the crime of rape, are due to be released after they were acquitted during last Friday’s JoW hearing. One of their company was convicted of the crime.

The number and names of inmates from Davao del Norte whose old cases were disposed by JoW in the sortie here are still unavailable at presstime.

The JoW which Puno reinvigorated July this year is mediating and deciding cases especially involving those inmates who are above 70 years old and detainees whose cases had dragged for longer periods than prescribed by law or those who have finished serving their sentence or were overstaying.

It aims to increase the access to justice by the poor, declog courts of unnecessary and unimportant cases and decongest jails nationwide.

He reported that court-annexed mediations through the JoW program has successfully resolved 1,329 of the 1,457 total cases or an 85-percent success rate from January to June this year alone.

The chief justice brought along with him the especially-designed Justice on Wheels bus which has two court chambers inside it where JoW hearings were made. It was parked last Friday at the compound of the contiguous provincial jails of the two provinces at Mankilam.

He also inspected the condition of the inmates in the provincial jails.

Puno also made keynote address to a dialogue on anti-violence against women and their children with the city’s barangay officials and inaugurated the newly completed Integrated Bar of the Philippines building of the IBP-Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley Chapter.

Before the JoW’s sortie in the city, it had so far led to the releasing of at least 60 inmates in the places they have visited in different parts of the country.

The JoW has already visited city jails in Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan City, Kalibo, Aklan and Cebu. (Cha Monforte/Rural Urban News)

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