|The Manila City Hall where you will find the courts. Trials usually start at 8:30 a.m.|
MONDAY, I woke up early to meet my classmates at Manila City Hall. As one of the requirements in our subject Practice Court, we were required to render several hours of court visits. The requirement made a lot of sense to me as I haven't been to a court before. I don't know what a real court looks like nor how a case is really heard. I consider my self very fortunate to have been to a court, not everyone has been to a court. That's true even to some lawyers.
Inside the Manila City Hall, we had a hard time looking for the Regional Trial Court we were supposed to visit. "It should be somewhere here - third floor, but where is everyone?" We opened an old inconspicuous door and there it was! It was a room as jam-packed as an MRT on a rush hour.
|Persecutor cross-examining the witness.|
I was excited. I had been waiting for this moment for years. It was my first time to see how a Philippine court looked like. Judge, prosecutors, defense attorneys, family members, inmates, stenographers, evidences -- everything that I have been reading in books and cases were there right before my eyes. We observed the persecutor cross-examine the witness. There was tension in the air as the lawyer was trying to squeeze the truth out of a witness who herself wasn't sure of her answers.
I was seated beside an inmate ready to be sentenced for a crime. "Kuya" didn't mind me. He had his own business. I find a sense of security knowing that all inmates are handcuffed. I also noticed that the "witness stand" was an old dilapidated chair, which had probably been there since circa 60's (?) The Philippine flag at the background was old, you can tell that it hasn't been washed in years. Along sides were cabinets that seemed like lockers. There were also old unused papers lying on every corner. Without people, that room could easily be mistaken for a bodega.
|Inmate waiting for his case to be called|
Outside, just a few steps away, there was a room renovation going. I think they are furnishing a new court to replace the existing one. Thank goodness. Once complete, there should be a better venue to administer justice. With that said, they no longer have to used that "bodega," and oh, that hideous looking witness chair.