MALACAÑANG on Tuesday expressed its reservation over the proposed revival of the death penalty, saying that, at this time, it is more important to reform the country’s “flawed” justice system.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. admitted that “weaknesses” in the justice system deter them from fully supporting measures that seek to reimpose capital punishment on heinous crimes.
“One of our reservations regarding the reimposition of the death penalty is the view that there are weaknesses in our justice system. If the justice system is flawed, it is likely that the innocent may be punished,” the Palace official explained.
Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd on Tuesday filed a bill that seeks to reinstate the death penalty.
Coloma said while the measure has yet to be discussed by the Cabinet, it is the belief of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that the primary focus should be on judicial reforms.
“It has been repeatedly observed that there are a lot of things that must be done to improve our judicial process, especially in terms of speeding up the pace of litigation,” Coloma further said.
Coloma said President Aquino had himself noted the flaws in the criminal justice system and said that these should get “priority attention.”
“Priority attention should be given not only on the reimposition of a harsher penalty but in instituting reforms in the criminal justice system in order to eliminate the flaws that have been noted,” he emphasized.
Coloma claimed that while law enforcers are preoccupied with preventing crime, he maintained that “crime prevention is best achieved through community efforts.”
“This is not only about the deterrent aspect or the punitive aspect in engaging directly with criminal elements,” he added.
In filing Senate Bill 2080, Sotto noted that the penalty of death is appropriately necessary “due to the alarming upsurge of such crimes which has resulted not only in the loss of human lives and wanton destruction of property but also affected the nation’s efforts towards sustainable economic development and prosperity.”
Sotto said while the Philippine constitution bars the imposition of excessive, cruel, degrading and inhumane punishment including death penalty, it also allows such penalty as long as there is compelling reason.
“Life imprisonment does not deter crimes but with death penalty there is a big chance because when you look at the definition of death in the dictionary the meaning of the death is also to inhibit,” he explained.
He insisted that bringing back the death penalty will not only instill fear in criminals but will also prevent those already convicted from doing the same crime again.
“I’m pro life as far as the unborn and the Filipino family is concerned but I am pro-death for heinous criminals,” Sotto said.
Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and JV Ejercito expressed openness to Sotto’s proposal.
Estrada, who is facing plunder raps before the Office of the Ombudsman, is convinced that peace and order is getting worse and it is time to consider the imposition of the death penalty.
Ejercito, meanwhile, said imposing extreme punishment against criminals could help deter heinous crimes.
“It’s a very controversial issue, but it’s hard to have peace and order if criminals always get away with it,” he added.
Senators Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, Antonio Trillanes 4th, Bam Aquino, and Pia Cayetano on the other hand opposed Sotto’s proposal, noting that there are other ways to stop the influx of crime.