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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, April 7, 2018
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OPINIONS

When Justice is denied

Ninfa Leonardia

One can just imagine the pall about to envelop Boracay Island with the imminent closure ordered by the President, ostensibly in order to clean the place up. For years, Boracay has existed as the virtual crown jewel of our tourism offerings, but it took a new president to judge it and declare it a cesspool, unfit for human enjoyment! How long will the six months feel to all those who will be losing their incomes and their jobs? One can only wonder what percentage of those who will no longer have a steady means of livelihood will be able to survive.

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There used to be a joke about parents whose young children are about to administered injections or immunizations. To placate the wailing kids, mother or father would soothingly say “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Can President Duterte say that to the “victims” of the Boracay rehabilitation? To make matters worse, the Presidential spokesman does not even show the proper respect to the islanders and outraged a lot of them by calling their beloved island “Bora”. But he got a lot of reactions from netizens that must have made his ears ring!

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Me, I just wonder why, if at all, Boracay must be rehabilitated or cleared up, it could not be done in phases. Say, start the works in Station one, close it for so many months, and scrub it clean, before moving on to Station 2, then Station 3. I worry that some of the people, especially foreigners, who had been planning to come and see, or return for the umpteenth time to Boracay, might find some other destinations where their own officials do not malign their offerings, and never come back to Boracay. I hope that does not happen. Cross your fingers, folks.

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Yesterday’s reports say that, 700,000 bookings for Boracay have been cancelled, which translates to some P30 billions in earnings, or losses, whichever way you put it. These probably include losses to transportation entities, hotel bookings, food and catering incomes, and more. Just imagine the local entities, hotel bookings, food and catering incomes, and more. Just imagine the local entities that will have to stop operating – bancas, restaurants, souvenir shops, fruit stalls and the like. For six months, no golden eggs will be laid, and who knows, the goose might die, too.

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The headline said that President Duterte had accepted the resignation of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. “Accepted”? I thought he demanded it. Would Aguirre still be in his office if he had refused to submit a letter of resignation? Well, maybe we would have learned if it is differently that the President will treat a situation if it involves a classmate and fraternity brother. But perhaps the hints were too broad that the message did sink through the wig of the official in question. One wonders who are the next in the line of fire, as there are hints of others following suit.

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Several national dailies carried yesterday the story of the conviction of four men who had kidnapped two teenaged girls who were on their way to school, and later demanded P80 million from their parents as ransom. The parents were later able to plead with them to reduce the amount and paid it, so the girls were released. But not before they were abused, as disclosed by the elder one, then aged 17, with the younger 14 then. The court, presided over by a lady judge, meted the kidnappers 40 years, which is equivalent to life, and without eligibility for parole. The kidnapping took place on March 19, 2009, and the verdict came out April 5, 2019.

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I underscore that because, note, that the crime took place about 10 years ago, and judgment only came the other day. One cannot help comparing our justice system, especially its pace, to those of other countries like, say, Kuwait. Remember the case of Joanna Demafelis of Iloilo, the girl whose body was found in a freezer abandoned by her employers for a year. Last week, a Kuwaiti court rendered judgment on the case against Joanna’s employers, a Lebanese and his Syrian wife, and meted them death by hanging!

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That took only a few weeks after the arrest of the suspected couple by Interpol. Now it is only a matter of extradition before the two will be meted the penalty they deserve. Only a matter of months and days, and it’s all over, that is the court verdict. In the abovementioned kidnapping case, the two girls are now full-grown women – 27 and 23 – and their kidnappers have only been sentenced the other day! We like to quote “Justice delayed is justice denied” but oh, how true that it is in our country!*

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