The Poor on Trial in the Philippine Criminal Justice System

Maria Glenda Lopez


Law is an interpretative profession as it is vested with the legitimate authority to interpret the rules governing the structure and processes of societal relations. As societal facts are accurately interpreted through the legal profession, justice in society is thereby promoted, if not enhanced. However, rarely are facts accurately interpreted, for the accuracy of interpretation is largely dependent on the quality of the case that is constructed by the legal practitioner. Indeed, the quality of case building is largely constrained by, or has a direct relation to the economic class to which the litigants belong. Thus, the rich have far greater chances than the poor have of obtaining better-constructed cases. Some of the factors that negatively affect the building of cases for the pauper litigants are: difficulty of locating witnesses, inability to communicate with their lawyers and lack of knowledge of the law, heavy workload of the public attorneys, and absence of investigators and legal researchers at the Public Attorney's Office.

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