At Large

JUSTICE in this country is elusive. It makes no sense for people who dwelt in believing it is only a term people utter in thin air, without anyone grasping the quintessence of it. It is odd. It is often spoken of, but is never found.

 It is printed on papers, on laws, scratches and unopened dictionaries. The word is scrawled red in the placards of street protesters. The stories of it not being realistic are often conveyed through their shouts and prayers. Cries of the people whose loved ones are not served it are audible – as audible as the struggles of two student activists as they were being dragged by armed men; as audible as the sound of a pulled trigger, making a wife lose her life to the ground; as audible as the news that had broke about an environmentalist-broadcaster’s demise.

We know of these incidents. We know of the men who are guilty of these. We know nothing of their hiding places.

This is what justice in this country is.

Impunity stands over it. The big men step on it. The guilty ones spit on it, run away and are seized not. Even when their heads cost wealth for those who would find them, they still all remains at large.

Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, both student activists from University of thePhilippines, were kidnapped on 2006 in Bulacan. A report said they were hanged upside down and were made to drink their own piss. Six years had passed and they are still missing, so is their abductor, retired major general Jovito Palparan.

Palparan is hard to find because the fugitive had received the same training as his hunters, says Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome.

 “If they’re serious about it, there’s a way. Otherwise, they can think of many reasons not to do it,” grieving mother of Karen rebuts.

 The P500, 000 offer of the government for Palparan’s capture seems not effective. The strategies of the authorities of capturing him also are, because it’s never just Palparan who is in the list. Evident as we may find, the word justice may never even was included in that list.

Former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes is also one. After deemed wanted in connection with the murder of Gerry Ortega in January 2011, he is not still found. He is free somewhere with Mario, his brother and mayor of Coron,Palawan. And so he sends messages to the radio stations, promoting love and understanding among the Palaweños. He is hiding, he says, “in the hearts of the people” ofPalawan.

He once said he serves for justice but ran away when he was the one to sit as the accused. He continues sending his messages about when he finally comes out while the family of Ortega continues on spelling the word justice inside their minds.

And just recently, another name was enlisted as a fugitive king. His name is Ruben Ecleo, Jr., representative of theislandofDinagat. Worshipped as the grandmaster of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries of the Philippines (PBMA), he managed to hide away from the call of the court and its ruling. He is wanted in connection with his graft conviction at the Sandiganbayan and a more recent parricide case for the death of his wifein 2001 . Her name is Alona. And her husband and accused murderer is nowhere to be found.

They’re all missing. The justice is.

We would never find out how it is like to have justice served for us, for the people who long sought for it. Because in fact, it was long forgotten by people even if they so fight for it. The president we have also fought for it, having his father gunned down to death. In the long run, it is still the same because the people who should be serving it to the people would not seem find ways to seize the fugitives. They find it impossible and difficult.

How justice in this country is defined then if the ones who committed the gravest crimes are still missing?

They’re powerful yet guilty.  But they are still at large. 








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