Sunday, December 26, 2010

Credible witness, corrupt judgment

Perennially accused for passing unlawful judgment to the victims of the Philippines’ judicial system, the Supreme Court recently declared that mental retardate can be credible as witness. The decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Perez of the tribunal’s First Division, gives justice to the human rights of individuals no matter what their status in life.

It is a different story how the state ensures that persons with physical (mental) disabilities are provided and given a more humane and suitable life. Without that, they will continue to experience the injustice befall upon them.

Putting a more humane context and perspective to the decision, Associate Justice Perez said, “While it is true that the credibility of one who is a mental retardate may be difficult to determine, still, it can be ascertained by deducing from the manner she testifies in court as to the surrounding facts of the crime committed. For as long as her testimony is straightforward, candid and unflawed by inconsistencies or contradictions in its material points, and her demeanor is consistent with one who has been a victim of rape, bolsters her credibility with the verity born out of human nature and experience, thus, must be given full faith and credit.”

The decision of the First Division, added, “Moreover, mental retardation per se does not affect credibility. A mentally retarded may be a credible witness. The acceptance of her testimony depends on the quality of her perceptions and the manner she can make them known to the court.”

Qualified justly and correctly, I must say.

I am glad decisions like that happened even in the face of a court tainted with historical corruption, partisan politics whose judgment always delivered lethal blows to the oppressed and exploited people. I need not mention judgments favorable to the poor, for the poor cannot even afford huge court fees just so the cases they are involved with will proceed. Or if given a slim chance of litigation, another obstacle is to have a favorable decision, if ever decisions are made.

Now that the court has given a green signal for the credibility of individuals with mental disabilities, they remain incomplete and ignored members of our society given by the fact that the existing state cannot even give or provide the most basic of their need. Just examine our hospitals and medical institutions catering to people like them. Or do we have a program that will ensure a lifelong respect for people with mental disabilities?

Beyond making them credible witness in court litigation, we, as a people should also be a credible witness to their suffering, and the government, has the credibility to ensure their rights are protected, their mental problem medically examined and the entire community of people are well taken care of.

Going by the decisions of the Supreme Court lately favoring dishonored accused because of their economic and political connections in life proved that even a truthful “mental retardate” is an obstacle for coming out with a just and rightful decision.

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