Wednesday, December 08, 2004

rule of law

A right and just law is for all citizens, for all cases, for all times. As the maxim goes: “dura lex sed lex.” (The law is hard but law it remains). The law favors neither persons nor offices. It does not make any exceptions for the powerful and the wealthy.

The majesty of the law is even above lawmakers. The force of law applies to all law-breakers. To apply and uphold the law constitute the prime task of the executive and the judicial branches of government. This is what ultimately makes a stable government, a just society, a strong republic—a people at ease and in peace.

Otherwise, a people would have but an infamous “banana republic” to their own shame.

Justice and mercy must go hand-in-hand. Otherwise, there would be cruelty. Justice and order should also go together. Otherwise, there would be chaos. Furthermore, justice and reconciliation are not antithetical. Otherwise, there would be constant vindictiveness and continuous bitterness, both of which are not only personal liabilities but also social dangers.

Thus, if there is a law allowing “house arrest” for those accused and undergoing trial for plunder, then let the law be observed. If there is no such law, then let the law be enacted. And make it applicable to all—even retroactively in principle. Otherwise, breaking, bending, prostituting the law for whomever and for whatever motive, is destroying the very nature and rationale of law, playing with the justice system.

In other words, no matter how hard the law is, the same applies equally to the hapless and the influential, the laborer and the capitalist, the lowly employee and the interesting former President. If “house arrest” is allowed by law to the said President, the same distinct privilege should be also given to every lowly person accused of much lesser crimes. Otherwise, the law could be anything but law. Call it communication, suggestion, option or something the like—but not law.

12 December 2002