February 22, 2024

Under the 1987 Constitution, it allows for only three branches of the government.
First is the executive branch headed by the President which is in charge of the execution of laws, second is the legislative branch which is comprised of the Senate and Congress which is in charge of the enactment of laws, and third is the judicial branch administered by the Supreme Court which is in charge of the interpretation of laws.
The three branches of the government operate individually but are inter-dependent on each other with one branch operating as a check and balance to the powers that are discharged by the others. Ideally, aside from the executive branch, legislative branch and judicial branch, there are no other agencies that would cater to the grievances of the people. Or is there still another?
A walk-in client came to my office one day to have a legal consultation. After appraising him of the process and the cost on how to solve his problem, he backed out and said that he would rather bring his concerns to the program “Isumbong mo kay Tulfo.”
He said that by doing so, he will save on the time, money, and energy. As he perceives it, Sen. Raffy Tulfo has a ready and immediate answer to all the legal problems that are brought to his program.
With Tulfo, there are no formal hearings, no witnesses and no filing fees. What is only needed is a sensational situation that is worthy of catching the imagination of millions of viewers.
It is not the first time that I heard and encountered people with problems opting to refer their grievances to the program of Tulfo.
The heartbroken, the bankrupt, and the accused who have watched Tulfo are more than willing to reveal themselves and expose their privacy to public scrutiny and ridicule if only to find a ready and hasty solution to their problems. It would seem obvious that by doing so, they are showing a higher trust in the program of Tulfo than in the judicial system. Why is this so?
Many litigants have complained about the snail pace of the judicial system in this country. Justice delayed is justice denied. Many accused who are lingering in jails and to some extent, other litigants, have lost patience, nay, even hope, regarding the result of their cases.
The tedious process of litigation where some courts have given more importance to procedures rather than substance, the cost of filing and professional fees and the contingency of every outcome, have all contributed to the outlook of the ordinary people and make them conclude that justice is evasive. Though this is not at all true because the system remains to be best there is, who can blame them?
There have been legislations and Supreme Court circulars crafted to expedite litigations like, the Speedy Trial Act, the one-day witness rule, the non-extension of period to file responsive pleadings in cases covered by the rules on summary procedure, the small-claims case and others. Yet, these are more ideal than real. Practical considerations make the realization of the goals of these impossible to achieve. There is the human factor to consider. For instance, how can a trial speedily proceed if the counsel or the judge is sick? How can the one-day witness rule be implemented when there are 30 or more cases being heard by a court in one day?
So, what do the people do despite the admonition of the Constitution that there are only three branches of the government? They seek an alternative venue to air their grievances. That is why programs like “Isumbong mo kay Tulfo” thrive and are patronized by the people. For, in it, they find an immediate albeit temporary answer to their problems. In it, they find an avenue where they are cast as heroes. They get to tell their stories straight up with no worries of being confronted by a serious cross-examination. Almost everytime, the complainant is given preference which is no longer healthy. There are always two sides of a story.
In the end, the problems that are brought to attention in the program of Tulfo is a mere production designed to entertain. Yet, people would prefer to go there and relate their stories to the public because for them, Tulfo is their fourth branch of government.