December 14, 2010. This day will have to be earmarked in the Philippine legal history. At the lower court, an RTC judge acquitted Hayden Kho from the two charges filed by Katrina Halili related to the violation of RA 9262 or the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act. The second is the reversal of the Philippine Supreme Court on the lower courts’ decision to keep Hubert Webb and others in prison for the rape and death of Carmela Visconde.
Justice was afforded. These two publicised stories for claims over justice were followed through time. They occured in different in times and places, but are of the same context — violence against women. The complainants and the accused have metted justice in different time span. One took a couple of years, the other took decades to have finality.
Katrina cried for justice when her sex-video appeared online and transmitted from one mobile phone to another. The case she filed were judged to be insufficient in evidence to prove the accused, Kho, guilty beyond reasonable doubt. This is the same reason of those justices in the Supreme Court who acquitted Webb and his company not guilty of raping and murdering Carmela.
The courts decision were based on the judicial proceedings. The verdicts depend on how the legal counselors of the complainant can prove that the accused are guilty “beyond reasonable doubt”. Halili’s case does not have finality yet. It can still be appealed. While, for the Visconde all means have been done. The higher court, with finality, gave the verdict that the accused who served in prison for 15 years are not guilty.
The point of the higher court’s reversal of the previous decisions, teaches us several things assuming that the Supreme Court is infallable. First, the lower courts are not capable to decide with finality. Second, the higher court and lower court’s decision are not concordant. Third, there’s justice in the Philippines as to whatever that means, because final decisions are made after hearing.
However, beyond the decisions made, there is still a lingering crisis that our society has to deal with. That is the problem of violence against women. The courts’ decisions on those cases demonstrates the jurisprudence in the justice system. They are not proof that the right of women for protection, safety, security and dignity are upheld in the society. Daily, there are reports of violence against women and their children. The courts merely decided that those who are accused are not guilty, then the culprits are out there on the loose.