American Judge on harsh sentencing in the Philippines
Fr. Shay Cullen
31 July 2015
Frederick C. Norton, Esq., attorney and retired judge in New Jersey, like many in the United Sates, has been following the practice of law in the Philippines through social-media. Philippine Law is largely based on North American law since the Philippines was a colonial country of the United States until 1946.
Much jurisprudence in the Philippines takes note of the United States Supreme Court decisions. Retired Judge Fredrick C. Norton questions the injustice of what happened to Eanna O Cochlain while commenting on the questionable “prosecution for gain” of foreigners visiting the Philippines. He was sentenced by Philippine Judge Philip G. Salvador of Laoag to 12 years in jail for possession of 2 cigarettes with 0.38 grams of cannabis. Philippine jail is death sentences for foreigners with high rates of tuberculosis.
The just implementation of the law in the Philippines is generally positive although glacially slow and corruption is prevalent. Many more judges are learning the child rights and protection law for example and there are more convictions of child rapists and abusers than before. But many more are still unfairly dismissed.
That’s because there are not yet enough just and intelligent uncorrupted judges despite the good work of the Supreme Court administrator. Justice and fair judiciary is essential for the nation to remain calm and orderly, and to prosper. People will be reluctant to invest and do business in the Philippines if they think they are going to be victims of extortion and frame ups. That’s why the case of Eanna O Cochlain is so important and getting wide media attention.
He is an Irish senior Psychiatric nurse who was allegedly set up at the Laoag airport, Northern Philippines, and his story is spreading worldwide via the main stream media and social media. Journalists have expressed fears of listeners who vow never to go to the Philippines.
This is most unfortunate when there are only a few such cases of alleged malicious prosecution and unjust harsh cruel sentences. The Philippine Court of Appeals will save the good name and reputation of the judiciary by rendering a just judgment. It has done this in the past.
Eanna O Cochlain is out on bail pending the Appeals Court decision. This is what retired Judge Fredrick C. Norton, in the interests of justice and not presuming to lecture anybody, shares his opinion having read the history of the case. There are strong punitive drug laws in the United States however the interpretation and enforcement is at the discretion of the judge.
“As an attorney and a former judge who has heard a substantial number of drug offenses here in the United States, I don’t understand why the police stopped the Irish nurse and searched him in the first place. Here in the United States the search would have been an illegal search and seizure and the evidence would have been suppressed.
(In this case) The punishment does not fit the crime. We are finding out that marijuana has a medicinal value. For a first offense and for such a small amount, even if the conviction for the possession of marijuana were justified, a monetary fine would have been sufficient….
President Obama recently released a substantial number of drug offenders from prison, realizing that imprisonment does not provide a just punishment (for minor offenses)……The entire judicial system in the Philippines seems to be a system stuck in the dark ages and brings back to the present day the “Star Chamber”. (A movie 1983 about frame ups in the judicial system)”
Frederick C. Norton, Esq. was licensed in the State of New Jersey and licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
It is very important that the government and business investors promote a just and accountable judiciary. the Supreme Court Administrator is doing good in suspending or dismissing corrupt justices. In the many court cases pursued by the Preda Foundation, we have a positive experience. Last 2014 there were 8 convictions won by Preda paralegal officers and prosecutors for the child victims of rape and child abuse. The power of a just system is very important and child abusers are warned that more and more cases are ending in convictions of the rapists. The filing of a case by a child can have dramatic results.
Jonalyne, a 13 year old girl who was sexually abused by her grandfather filed a charge against him in her fight for justice and to save other children from such abuse. The grandfather thought he was above the law or more influential than his granddaughter. He ignored the invitation to attend the first preliminary hearing. When the subpoena arrived ordering him to attend the second preliminary investigation he had a heart attack and died later in hospital.
The very thought that justice could be done and he would have to answer for the alleged crime was a terrible shock. All abusers ought to know that the law is being applied justly in many courts however slowly due to many cases and a few judges. It is the cases where foreigners are unjustly charged with a crime and given extreme sentences that the international community is very annoyed, fearful and the tourist industry is disturbed.
The tourist tycoons and hoteliers ought to do more curb sex tourism and child sexual abuse in their hotels, taverns and sex bars. Mayors ought to clean up their towns and cities and close down the sex industry. The mayor of Subic Town is denying sex bars licenses after a raid organized by Preda to save minors victims of human trafficking. The National Government ought to implement the law against child pornography and compel the Internet Server Providers (ISPs) to fully obey the law and install filters.
Justice is what everyone wants and a clean, bribery free judiciary is the mark of a civilized ethical country based on the rule of law and not on greed and corruption. Despite the good work of the Aquino administration, much more has to be done.