January 20, 2011


The President expressed his reservations about reimposing the death penalty because the judicial system isn't perfect. He used to be for it but has changed his mind. The President is right on this issue and here is why.

In People v. Efren Mateo, G.R. Nos. 147678-87, the Supreme Court made a landmark admission that the judicial system isn't perfect and how! Citing cold, hard statistics, the Supreme Court said that:

"Statistics would disclose that within the eleven-year period since the re-imposition of the death penalty law in 1993 until June 2004, the trial courts have imposed capital punishment in approximately 1,493, out of which 907 cases have been passed upon in review by the Court. In the Supreme Court, where these staggering numbers find their way on automatic review, the penalty has been affirmed in only 230 cases comprising but 25.36% of the total number. Significantly, in more than half or 64.61% of the cases, the judgment has been modified through an order of remand for further proceedings, by the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law or by a reduction of the sentence. Indeed, the reduction by the Court of the death penalty to reclusion perpetua has been made in no less than 483 cases or 53.25% of the total number. The Court has also rendered a judgment of acquittal in sixty-five (65) cases. In sum, the cases where the judgment of death has either been modified or vacated consist of an astounding 71.77% of the total of death penalty cases directly elevated before the Court on automatic review that translates to a total of six hundred fifty-one (651) out of nine hundred seven (907) appellants saved from lethal injection." (underscoring provided, citations omitted)

The death penalty is the most final of all penalties. It cannot and should not exist where the conditions for determining guilt or innocence are so imperfect--as admitted by no less than the Supreme Court itself.

I have witnessed two executions. It is an experience I do not wish to inflict on my worst enemy. In the only triple execution so far (three convicts in one day, one after the other), at least one of the three who was killed was widely acknowledged by the inmates in Bilibid to be absolutely innocent.

My heart goes out to the Lozano and Evangelista families and all the others who have lost loved ones in the cycle of senseless violence but more violence is not the solution.

By all means, hunt down those who inflict this senseless violence, arrest them, build up cases against them, charge them, try them and keep them in jail. This must be done for every criminal who kills, who steals, who pillages, who plunders for it is this certainty that one who breaks the law will be held accountable that deters a criminal; it is not the severity of a punishment the criminal is confident of evading because he can get a good lawyer, can intimidate or kill witnesses and occasionally may even buy off judges.

Martin Luther King Jr. said it best and most memorably:

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars."

The death penalty is State-sanctioned murder.

The greatest irony and tragedy is that it is carried out in the name of the People.

I raise my voice to join the President's.



No comments: