Dispatch from Crame No. 442: JUSTICE: A PRE-NEW YEAR’S REFLECTIONS

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“What is ‘justice’?” is a question that many people all over the world apparently wondered about this year, it being the top lookup at Merriam-Webster.com (with the entry being searched 74% more than in 2017), resulting in its declaration as the Word of the Year by the online dictionary.

Needless to state, being detained for 674 days now based on fake charges meant to silence my criticisms of the Duterte Administration, I have caught myself pondering the same question. Moreso ever since Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, in his dissent to the decision to dismiss my Petition for Certiorari, described the cases against me as “blatantly a pure invention”, thus making my continued detention “one of the grossest injustices ever perpetrated in recent memory in full view of the Filipino nation and the entire world.” Apparently, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention agreed, going by its Opinion that asked the Philippine Government to, among others, release me immediately.

I, of course, would be the most surprised, as it is next to impossible, if this Administration ever does the right thing and release me. But it only makes me ponder about the word “justice” and its antonym, “injustice”, even more.

What I realized are the following.

Justice is metaphysically what this rock called “Planet Earth” is physically to us humans. In simplest terms: it anchors us, preventing us from hurtling dangerously and uncontrollably into space. In the words of Aristotle, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

Justice elevates us and gives true meaning to the virtues we aspire to.

What is power without justice? Tyranny.

What is peace without justice? Repression.

What is productivity without justice? Slavery.

What is prosperity without social justice? Exploitation.

What is exploration without environmental justice? Disaster.

Worse, I realize that “injustice” is not, in fact, the complete absence of justice. It is the abuse, misuse and perversion of justice. In other words, it is the evil witch pretending to be Lady Justice. It is La Usurpadora. And just like the way it is depicted in art, the usurper is, in very concrete ways, more dangerous than the usual villain. If the villain is in plain sight, we can fight it. If it is disguised as something we hold dear, we will eventually find ourselves stabbed in the back for it fools people into trusting it, giving it more opportunities to do the greatest harm.

So, really, what we should takeaway from 2018 is that we should be more careful about the people we trust. The greatest harm comes from the enemy we did not immediately recognize, the one that perpetrates the gravest acts of betrayal of public trust. It takes many forms, one of them being “Injustice.” ###

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