“Tagalogs, Ilongos, Cebuanos, and Pampangos use a common word for justice, katarungan, derived from the Visayan root tarong, which means straight, upright, appropriate, correct. For us, therefore, justice is not rectitude, the morally right act; and because it also connotes what is appropriate, it embraces the concept of equity for which we have no native word, and for which on the rare occasions that we use the concept, we employ the Spanish derivative ekidad.
For “right,” we use karapatan, whose root is dapat, signifying fitting, appropriate, correct. The similarity in meaning of the root words for “right” and “justice” indicates that, for us, justice and right are intimately related.
On the other hand, for “law” we use batas, a root word denoting command, order, decree, with a meaning disparate from that of the roots of our words for “justice” and “right.” Our language then distinguishes clearly between law and justice; it recognizes that law is not always just.”
-Sen. Jose W. Diokno
from “A Nation for our Children”
(Selected Writings of Jose W. Diokno, edited by Priscilla S. Manalang)
Copyright 1987 by the Jose W. Diokno Foundation, Inc
Co-edited and printed by Claretian Publications