RP JUDICIAL SYSTEM CORRUPT, INEFFICIENT -- U.S. STATE DEPT

Manila, April 4, 2003 -- The United States has described the Philippine judicial system as "corrupt and inefficient" and said the government is unable to curb human rights violations.

The findings are contained in a country report released March 31 by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople said he has been informed about the 20-page report. He will comment on it today.

"The Constitution provides for an independent judicially. However, the judicial system suffered from corruption and inefficiency," the report, based on 2002 monitoring, said.

"Judges and prosecutors remain poorly paid, overburdened, susceptible to corruption and the influence of the powerful, and often fail to provide due process and equal justice," it said.

The report said although the government "generally respected" human rights, there were "serious problems in some areas.

"Some elements of the security services were responsible for arbitrary and unlawful and in some cases extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrest and detention. Other physical abuse of suspects and detainees as well as police, prosecutorial, and judicial corruption remained problems," the report said.

The report cited harsh prison conditions and long delays in trial, adding that "case backlogs, limited resources, corruption and a shortage of judges hindered the courts."

"Despite efforts by reformist leaders in all three branches of the government to strengthen rule of law and protection of human rights, a fundamental and pervasive weakness in the rule of law left citizens with the belief that official justice is beyond reach," the report said.

It also said the incidence of poverty worsened in 2002 and approached 40 percent. (By MARILOU JUMILLA, Malaya)





Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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