Letter to the Editor: A Jury System for the Filipinos

The JURY SYSTEM is a judicial process where a group of ordinary people are called by law to decide serious legal cases brought to court for investigation and trial.  It is a means for the ordinary Filipino to file a case against anyone, rich or poor, who have allegedly done a serious crime to his fellow man.

Advantages of the Jury System

  1. It empowers the Filipinos in indirectly running the government and administering equal justice to all.
  2. With the presence of the Jurors, bribery and coercion will be less likely to take place.
  3. The serious civil and criminal cases will be swiftly decided upon. Cases may take just 3 days to 2 years to close. Accused persons may only be jailed if proven guilty.
  4. The cheating and corruption of government and private officials and staff would be stopped because if caught, they will face jail time and/or heavy fines/penalties.
  5. “Land grabbing” cases will be swiftly investigated and decided upon.
  6. Victims of crime will be compensated appropriately.
  7. The Jury System can unite the Christians, Muslims, and Ethnic groups when they sit together as Jurors.
  8. The Filipino character will change from corrupt to fair, and will stand proud to be of Maharlikan race.

Types of Juries

  1. The GRAND JURY is composed of 23 highly educated members called JURORS; chosen by lottery from the electoral register, and remain anonymous. They serve as juror for a term of 6 months, and receive a compensation that is twice the minimum wage. The GRAND JURY has the power to:
    • Investigate a suspect in secrecy to determine probable cause within 45 days;
    • Decide with a fixed majority rule by secret ballot; and
    • Indict directly the crime offenders in court.
  2. The TRIAL JURY is composed of 12 ordinary citizens, also called JURORS, at least 21 years old, can read and write, and are educated enough to be able to process simple facts. They need not be professionals. They are chosen by lottery from the electoral register to participate in deciding serious civil or criminal cases. They serve for the duration of the trial, and are paid the minimum wage.

The TRIAL JURY has the power to decide whether the accused is guilty or innocent with a fixed majority rule by secret ballot. Their decision is final.  Postponement of a trial is not allowed.

The Presiding Judge enforces court order; rules on the admissibility of evidence and advises the jurors on the laws involved in the particular case and how to serve in the jury. He does not participate in the decision-making.

What our Constitution says

Article II Section 1 of the Constitution states, “The Philippines is a Democratic and Republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.”

As a Democratic country, we the people are given the right to one and only one vote. As a Republican country, we have two more votes to spare:  The right to vote through a GRAND JURY, and the right to vote in a TRIAL JURY.

This is the best means (a) to stop government officials and private individuals from being corrupt, who then cheat and use the legal system in their favor; and (b) to combat private citizens who take the law into their own hands.

Article VI Section 32 of the Constitution states, “The Congress shall, as early as possible, provide for a system of initiative and referendum, and the exceptions there from, whereby the people can directly propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act or law thereof p assed by the Congress or local legislative body after the registration of a petition…”

Therefore, we have the power to directly propose and enact laws, and approve or reject any act or law passed by the Congress after the registration of a petition.

How do we accomplish this?

According to RA 6735 ACT or the People’s Initiative Referendum Act, “The power of the people to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances or resolutions passed by any legislative body upon compliance with the requirements of this Act is hereby affirmed, recognized and guaranteed.”

What are the requirements?

  1. Collect 5.4 Million (or 10%) registered voters’ signatures on a petition to enact the National Jury Law.
  2. Submit to the COMELEC the completed Signature Sheets for signature authentication and verification of the number of signatures. 7 Million signatures shall be collected to make up for the disqualified signatures.
  3. COMELEC to set the date for a Referendum about 90 days or less from the date 5.4 Million voters have been registered, and verified.
  4. Hold a National Referendum asking the 5.4 Million voters if they are in favor of a JURY SYSTEM.
  5. Supreme Court to implement National Jury Law if majority of the voters are in favor of a JURY SYSTEM.

Ask Congress to do this

We need not amend or revise the Constitution. We will simply be using a new law called the National Jury Law.  This will be implemented by the Supreme Court, following the people’s approval at the Referendum.

We urge you to join the World Philippine Jury Initiative (WPJI), ccontribute to fund the collection of 7 Million signatures, and sign the petition for a National Jury Law.

For more information about WPJI, go to www.philippinejury.com.

Please donate to NatWest, Camberley, WPJI Account No. 602203–62612387; or BDO, Pasig, Worldwide Philippine Jury Initiative (PH) Account No. 7890029079.

The author, Daisy Brett-Holt, is a BSE graduate of UP Diliman. Upon graduation in 1971, she taught Physics at Jose Abad Santos High School. After 10 years and a Master’s degree, she was recruited to teach in Bornu State, Nigeria. She then took a one-year Post Graduate Course in Education at Reading University to qualify as a Secondary School teacher in UK. In 2008, she became involved with a Filipino association based in London that advocated the Jury System. Later, some members and Brett-Holt founded the Worldwide Philippine Jury Initiative (WPJI). She retired from teaching in 2012 and went straight to being a full time Jury System advocate. After personally learning and experiencing the effects of the Jury System, the author believes it is the missing piece in our Constitution that would make it complete or whole, to function well.