Thursday, September 17, 2009

The rule of law applies even to the devils

Below is a letter to the editor I wrote regarding the editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, "Vigilante rule."

In Robert Bolt’s play “A Man For All Seasons,” William Roper has a heated debate with Sir Thomas More about the law.

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!

More: What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I’d cut every law in England to do that!

More: And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned on you — where would you hide Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s March 31 editorial, “Vigilante rule” is essentially an elaboration on the question More had to confront: Should the Devil be given the benefit of law?

By all means, the editorial says, we should. After all, “that is the process in a nation that upholds the rule of law, not the rule of the mob or vigilantes.”

Many of us whose relatives have been fortunately spared from these killings may have some degree of tolerance for the killings. And Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Leila de Lima finds it alarming that there’s a “growing culture or mentality of public acceptance of the executions.”

Sure, unlike before, we can now roam the streets of Davao City free from fear of being knifed or held up by lawless elements. Sure, we can take pride in making this city unfit for those who have a sinister plan of setting up a drug laboratory. Sure, the death of a person who either has a criminal record or is a drug addict/pusher is not so great a loss. They are “salot sa lipunan” [plague of society].

“But what if,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer asks, “their relatives or friends become targets or victims of vigilante assassinations?”

Like More, we should not “cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil.” Instead, we should give “the Devil benefit of law.”

What for? For our own safety’s sake.

No comments:

Post a Comment