Gem of thoughtsThe devastation we glare at, the statistics we frown upon and harrowing stories we grit on are but the proverbial outcome of a disaster that was then unthinkable to happen in Eastern Visayas. They are all deplorable but they are all real and truthful; a wounding part of Philippine annals.
Worse than that, though, these facts are but the tip of the iceberg. Beyond the superficial documentation are deeper injury and more intense pain for many. Inconveniences are but an instance of the many ill effects of the supertyphoon that struck the region on November 8 last year. These consequences are not ephemeral. To some the effect is fleeting, while to a greater majority, especially those who lost their loved ones, it is outrageously life-long.
Physically, panning across the horizon with the wreckage so enormous, remorse and grief clutch one’s soul. Who would like to see an investment made in decades left in rubbles by a megastorm called Yolanda? Sweat, blood, tears, shame and what-have-you, besides the hefty amount, to some almost the entire fortune, infused into such enterprise or livelihood but furiously taken away in just two to four hours by the supertyphoon. So demoralizing, many quip. So depressing, others say. Albeit disheartening, there are tougher and more optimistic souls who view the mishap on the positive perspective.
Thanks to the many people who have brought and others still bring smile into the heavily-laden faces of survivors. They are the true embodiment of hope for the deprived. Sadly though, while other people try to assemble the broken pieces of one survivors’ life and his hand held tightly until he could start moving forward on his own, there are those who have nothing better to think of than take advantage of the victim’s helplessness.
Prices of basic commodities jacked up to exorbitant rate few days after the onslaught of the killer storm. There were reports of robbery (technically called looting) in establishments and homes. The survivors scattered all over do their own thing with no regard to rules and regulations. There was a mad mob rule prevailing.
No one seemed to be stopping them from engaging in their survival toil. No one would even dare to file a criminal complaint against another as there seemed to be no office that could bear hearing and entertaining protests or grievances. Not in the meantime. The government, both national and local, in the few days that elapsed following the deluge of Yolanda, was apparently handicapped to deal on complaints. Not only systems were down, the manpower was immobilized, as well.
The police’s or the barangay’s inability to tackle complaints was not intentional, because the people who are supposed to receive these complaints were victims themselves whose homes might have been washed out, severely damaged or partly destroyed by the typhoon that just passed. This is besides the fact that the deluge (storm surge, that is) made the equipment, such as typewriters and computers, inutile. This excuse, nevertheless, was acceptable few days immediately following Yolanda’s onslaught. Not now, more than two months after the calamity’s occurrence.
A more lasting dismal effect of the supertyphoon is upon those who wanted to achieve something prior to the assault of enraged Mother Nature. In the justice system, for instance, there were complaints that were to be decided or ruled. Case records were literally washed ashore, while others are now gradually accumulating biomass that makes the salvaged records unreadable and unhealthy to scan. What is the effect? This is the literal portrayal of “justice delayed, justice denied.” This is precisely the reason that made the retrieval of any or if possible all case records, especially those that are active or pending in the dockets, imperative.
Even if records are retrieved, there could be another problem besetting the judicious administration of justice or, to say the least, the disposition of cases. What if the court or the prosecutor’s office, as the case may be, lost the file of the testimonies made during trial, or preliminary investigation or inquest hearings, respectively? That will necessitate a retaking of the testimonies? What if the witnesses are already gone, literally they left with no forwarding address or figuratively denied in the onslaught of Yolanda?
What if the previous testimonies of prosecution witnesses could have led to conviction? How will a retaking impinge upon the decision of the court if a retaking is required? In the absence of any record or testimony that will prove the guilt of an accused beyond reasonable doubt, there could be no conviction. Where is justice in this situation?
Another scenario is the case of accused who were due to come out from detention, either by reason of the desistance of the private offended party, his failure to prosecute or a settlement or compromise between the two warring parties, where such is allowed. How can such liberty be obtained when the record of the case is nowhere to be found and not one of either the litigants or their respective lawyers and neither the court has a piece of document on which to base any ruling or release order that the court will issue?
Same is true among the detention prisoners who wanted to post bail for their temporary liberty pending the trial of their case in court. Absent a copy of the Information filed by the prosecutor’s office in court, there is no basis upon which a bail could be posted or a motion to reduce it and an eventual posting of the same be allowed.
The Office of the Clerk of Court, per rules, is supposed to have a copy of the Information being the basis of the bail to be posted and the court Order allowing a bail at reduced amount, as the case may be. Thus, in the time being, the accused stays in jail. As to until when will all depend on how the court will figure out a way to have the detention prisoner post such bail.
There are other sectors that are affected by the so-called strongest typhoon that ever hit the globe in recent history. We will discuss this in the coming releases of this column. Ciao for now.