In defense of the "Tulfo Court"

"Tulfo Court" is a recurring and long-running joke on the Internet about the show of Rafael "Raffy" Teshiba Tulfo, called "Raffy Tulfo in Action" where he invites people who have legal, family and other problems needing a solution. Often, episodes revolve around family and marital matters. In other episodes, government officials, officers and employees are put under fire for certain, misconduct, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance.In the "Tulfo Court," the plaintiff is allowed to hurl any and all accusations against the defendant without regard to the rule on evidence. The defendant, on the other hand, is given the chance to respondent either in person on the show or via a phone or video call. There have been many instances in which the "Tulfo Court" was criticized for being too hasty in judgment against a defendant, for having no legal or factual basis in its pronouncements and, among many others, for making misinformed, discriminatory or malicious imputations against a person (usually the defendant).

Arguments against the "Tulfo Court" can easily be made, especially because of the fact that the proper forum should be the channels allowed by law to settle actual controversies, such the the courts, the barangay justice system and other offices or tribunals. The lack of proper review of the applicable law and proper evaluation of evidentiary matters is another obvious room for improvement.

For example, in a July 09, 2020 episode entitled "PART 1 | SUNDALONG GROOM BIGLANG NAPA-RETREAT SA WEDDING AT NAG HIDE OUT SA MOMMY NYA," the "Tulfo Court" berated and criticized a soldier who backed out of a planned marriage with his fiancé. Raffy Tulfo even threated the soldier of bringing the matter to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) via an administrative case for disciplinary action. Please see the first part of the matter below:

Criticisms inundated even the comment section of the "Tulfo Court's" YouTube channel because of this. Such uproar is understandable, considering the fact that breach of promise to marry, as a rule, is not an actionable wrong and considering that, in People v. Hernandez, et al. (55 O.G., p. 8456, Court of Appeals), it was held that a party cannot be compelled to proceed with a marriage albeit already planned and prepared for because such would be an indirect way of compelling said party to go into a marriage without his or her free consent, and this would contravene the principle in law that what cannot be done directly should not be done indirectly. The Court of Appeals explained that such a party therefore has the right to avoid for himself or herself the evil of going through a loveless marriage.

Despite these valid criticisms, it remains fair to say that the "Tulfo Court" cannot be conclusively pointed to as the main problem in and by itself; it is a symptom of a bigger, deadlier disease in society -- the lack of trust in the legal processes and the government's administration of justice.

According to Section 16 of the Article III of the 1987 Constitution, "All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies." This provision has a corresponding and correlative duty on the part of the government, more particularly on the part of the Judiciary, to make sure that court procedures are simplified and inexpensive, aiming for the speedy disposition of cases. (Section 5.5, Article Article VIII)

The point is this: the people's trust and faith in the government and its ability to administer justice has slowly eroded. Corruption and impropriety on the part of government officials, officers and employees have taken a toll on the public's trust and confidence in our institutions. People no longer believe that going to court or following legal processes is simple, convenient, or inexpensive.

The "Tulfo Court" comes in and offers the public exactly this -- a simplified, inexpensive and speedy system where they can air their grievances and obtain a judgment or solution, even at the expense of their privacy and dignity or even at the expense of prejudging the case. It cannot be denied that the "Tulfo Court," while being a problem in itself, has been able to expose certain problems and ills in society and in government that have long festered people's lives, for which the government seems to have been incapable or uninterested in delivering solutions.

This is not to praise the "Tulfo Court" as a panacea; this is also not to bury it. Somehow, this young society needs the "Tulfo Court" but it is a wake-up call to the government. It is a loud and resonating blare and call for change.