The Philippine Criminal Justice System at its Darkest

The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos is actually the revealing story of the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos of the Philippines. It contains never-before-told details of the incredible lifestyle of Imelda Marcos, of the imprisonment and assassination of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. and the other opposition leaders, of the Marcoses’ crony capitalism that drained the country of between $5 to $10 billion, and of the fall of Marcos.

The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos also tackles the kind of criminal justice system the Philippines had during the time of the Marcoses. The book touched on how the whole police system was tainted with corruption, even as the government slowly lost its credibility in the eyes of the Filipinos and the international community. Where else can you find a group of police instituting arrests without warrant? Of course, this was during a dictatorship era but the practice seems to have been instituted; research on the current justice in the Philippines indicated.

Moreover, the book also touched how the courts – from the Supreme Court to the Municipal courts — were influenced by the Marcoses and how this corrupt system affected the lives of every Filipino not only in the Philippines but also those who were living abroad. Perhaps, the most dangerous part of any government is to discover that its courts are corrupt. Human rights may be abused but if the courts and true to their calling, this could be abated. However, The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos narrates how the courts were at Marcos’ beck and call during that time.

It showed how the President of the Republic would use his clout to influence the decisions of the justices to suit his needs. Another proof of the country’s poor, albeit dangerous, justice system was the way Aquino was treated during his incarceration and trials. As Marcos’ fiercest critic and closest rival, Aquino was subjected to tortures and injustices never been experienced by his colleagues in the opposition. Yet, his opposition to Marcos was also the reason why he stayed alive for as long as he did. In court, Aquino was treated cordially, but with polite detachment.

His family and supporters knew that his trial was being done for publicity’s sake, so the credibility of this was also being questioned. The book also touched on the trials that happened after Aquino was assassinated. The government-formed AGRAVA Commission was set up primarily to investigate the Aquino assassination, but it lacked the much-needed credibility. Naturally, the Commission acquitted the Marcoses from the crime. At that time, the Filipinos were already losing confidence and trust in the Marcoses so they went out on the streets to show their sentiments.

These events eventually led to the toppling of what is now considered to be the conjugal dictatorship in the Philippines. The Philippines has always been considered as the United States of America’s most loyal ally in the Asia-Pacific region. The archipelago used to host the biggest American bases outside continental USA, until Philippine Congress approved their removal several years ago. In fact, among the Southeast Asians, Filipinos are the most “Americanized,’ so to speak. The Philippines is actually the first democratic country in the region. Unfortunately, the similarity ends there.

While the American justice system is not without flaws, it still has some credibility left. The Philippine justice system, on the other hand, has been accused of being a bed of graft and corruption for many years now. Buying out freedom has allegedly been a normal practice; so is paying justices to get the favorable verdict. Ordinary Filipinos do not trust the police; in fact, most of them are scared of the police. One could not blame them, if news reports have to be believed, because the policemen themselves coddle criminals, such as drug lords and smugglers.

In other words, Filipinos do not feel safe around the people who are supposed to protect them. Unfortunately, the corrections or jail is in no better condition. Every cell in practically every big city is jam-packed with alleged criminals. Since the justice system moves ever so slowly in the country, each accused can sometimes stay in jail until his final verdict is read. The corrupt and slow justice system of the Philippines cannot definitely be implemented in America, or it will cause grand chaos in the country.

It must be noted that the Americans and the Filipinos, despite their many similarities, have been immersed in two very different cultures. Americans know their rights and are vocal about their discontent. They have the capacity to raise their voices against authority without being scared of any retribution. Filipinos, on the other hand, have still to develop the habit of knowing and exerting their rights. It is perhaps to their credit that they are considered to be one of the most forgiving and patient people in their side of the world, but the same traits hinder them from obtaining real justice.

In fact, The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos has not forgotten to state that the Filipinos may yet forgive the Marcoses of their excessive – give and take five years. Indeed, a little more than two decades, with the murder of Aquino still unsolved, the Filipinos have already learned to move on, forgetting even that there was one man who sacrificed his life to oppose a conjugal dictatorship. Reference Mijares, Primitivo. (1976). The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Union Square Publication.