The country’s faulty justice system should not be made an excuse not to restore death penalty, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Chairman Dante Jimenez said Wednesday.
Jimenez attended the first hearing by the House of Representatives of seven proposals to restore death penalty that will cover heinous crimes, including drug trafficking.
“The anti-death penalty groups says it [death penalty]could be meted to an innocent person so we have to strengthen our judicial system instead? That is overly idealistic argument. Just because the system is not perfect, it does not render death penalty unfit for execution,” Jimenez told the House Committee on Justice.
“The safeguard for this is the automatic review of the death sentence by the Supreme Court. We can’t forever aim for a perfect strong judicial system as an excuse [not to restore death penalty],” he added.
The Philippines used to implement death penalty by a firing squad in the 1970s, then with an electric chair until 1987 when the death penalty was first repealed. The capital punishment was restored in 1993 thru lethal injection before it was abolished in 2006 after it has failed to deter criminals.
The VACC chief argued that the death penalty did not serve as a deterrent to crime in the ‘70s and ‘80s because it was never fully implemented because of pressure from anti-death penalty advocates.
“To protect the human rights of criminals is ultimate hypocrisy. We could not fathom why must we protect the rights of killers who massacre families. Reimposing death penalty will send a chilling effect and signal criminals to keep off from doing illegal activities,” Jimenez pointed out.
Criminals who commit heinous crimes are beyond redemption, he added.
He cited Bilibid inmates like Herbert Colanggo, Vicente Sy and Jaybee Sebastian who continued their involvement in the drug trade while in detention.
“The argument that death is a cruel punishment does not hold water. Look at the Bilibid inmates. They live a life of comfort and luxury,” Jimenez, whose brother was killed by drug syndicates in 1990, said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said death penalty cannot be restored because human justice is fallibl.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that “Courts should be guided by the principle that it would be better to set free 10 men who might be probably guilty of the crime charged than to convict one innocent man for a crime he did not commit (Atienza vs. People, G.R. No. 188694, February 12, 2014),” Lagman said.
“The execution of the death penalty is irreversible, including on those who may be innocent. Only God can forfeit life. No human authority has the power to kill, even if judicially mandated as a recompense for another lost life. The death penalty exacerbates the culture of violence and emboldens the monster in man,” Lagman added.