The law may be hard to observe or difficult to obey, but it remains the law and must be therefore followed just the same. This is the plain and simple meaning and implication of the above cited Latin maxim which is well known in a special way by those in the legal profession. The Latin principle is objectively right and the legal experts are professionally right as well when invoking the Latin truism – but only by virtue of the following three fundamental premises:
Firstly, that the law is just in its objective content, just for the subject party concerned, and just to the society as a whole it is mandated for observance. In other words even but there is an iota of injustice in the law in conjunction with any of the said qualifying factors, a law may be difficult to comply with, but an unjust law it remains. Thus it is that it loses its nature and finality as a law. Example: The E-Vat as a law is unjust because the very poor and the very rich are taxed same amount in their purchase of consumer goods!
Secondly, that the law equally applies to all – “without fear or favor”. This simply means that everybody has exactly the same standing – the same basic human dignity and the basic human rights – before the law. This is the cornerstone of the majesty of the law: it bows to no one for consideration of power and wealth. Precisely, herein hinges the majesty of the law – or this becomes a joke. Example: Recently, nothing less than a whale in authority and might wriggled out of the legal net while two small fries were caught!
Lastly, that the law is interpreted and applied by a legal system that is not simply working as designed and expected – but categorically working according to the demands of social justice specially in terms of its distributive dimension that is provident of public welfare or common goods. And this is distinctly not the case when those entities and individuals tasked to act accordingly, either do nothing or act to the contrary. Example: The dysfunctional justice system in the Country.
Under any of the at least three realities above mentioned, it is quite incongruous to say it with peace of conscience and conviction of reason the famous Latin line “Dura lex, sed lex.” – in the concrete Philippine situation. Therein, the maxim or saying becomes a big bad joke - such as in the following cases: When jails are full of poor and helpless people. When the so called “Rich and Famous” are above the law. When someone is altogether immune from any prosecution for any gross misdeed, any gigantic graft, any colossal corruption even by making them one big combined or huge composite villainy – precisely brought to fulfillment by that someone with all the power and influence to do what is right and just, but does exactly the abominable and censurable.
2 JUNE 2010