CAGAYAN DE ORO

Should we restore death penalty?

I ORIGINALLY wrote this as a Facebook post. However, I felt the need to share this to a wider audience, hence having this as an article for this column with slight modifications.

The re-imposition of death penalty won't guarantee an automatic payment of life by the accused. Our justice system provides that an accused should first be brought to trial. He may get a lawyer or the government should give him one. Evidences have to be produced and witnesses have to be crossed examined. All legalities may be invoked all in the name of due process. Anyone who has studied Philippine Politics and Governance should know that even if convicted, reversal of a lower court’s decision by a higher court is possible. If the accused is rich he can invoke as many legal remedies possible. Like it or not the system after all affords him of such. The procedures are long and winding; long enough for the decomposition of the victim to complete much much earlier.

This is our current justice system whether we like it or not. It's not that justice is delayed. It's just that, and perhaps unfortunately, justice is not and cannot just be an immediate reaction to achieve automatic satisfaction. Without facts it is impossible to figure out the truth, and without the truth it is impossible to render justice. There is no question that we have to let a rapist pay the price but who is the rapist in the first place? How sure are we that the one who is accused is the one who raped? It is obviously not sound to just send someone or anyone to jail just because we have been hurt or angered. The truth, scripture says, will set us free. Truth be told, the truth is just out there but remains so difficult to find.

For justice to be delivered we have to lobby for the improvement of our system. If the totality of our system remains weak and wanting in terms of mechanisms and procedures in criminal investigation, then having death as the highest form of penalty is still no guarantee towards a civilization of justice. Yes we can restore death penalty. This can be done, practically, within a year. But what's the point restoring it if the much broader system is not even effective and efficient in identifying suspects. Truth remains that authorities are lacking in orientation in forensic science. Reliance for example in testimonial evidences is still common a practice. Can someone for example explain why the suspected killer of a brutally murdered girl in Cebu, was captured in Davao? Have we captured the real fish or are we simply getting just any fish from the ocean for the sake of public presentation?

But why are we still clamoring for death penalty. The answer is simple: we are angry. A more accurate description in fact is this: those who are so angry at the situation are not really asking for death penalty they simply want the perpetrators dead, as much as possible in fact...immediately and without trial.

So unless we change our system to something that is apparently uncivilized, say immediate stoning to death of a suspect, no penal system could exhaust our anger. Not even a restoration of death penalty can satisfy our anger. The issue is not the maximum penalty but in the ability of the law enforcing agencies to fairly defend us within the context of our system.

Is it the purpose of our criminal justice system to subside our angers? Our personal angers are rooted in our own issues and we ought not create a grand scale system merely based on what we feel. We may kill anyone, and in fact we can kill everyone so that we can satisfy our anger. But is this the road to justice? We refuse to admit, we are not fighting for justice, we are simply mad and we want revenge.

In addition therefore to the many arguments against death penalty, I am not in favor of it not really because of plain and simple moralism, but because its proponents have not been convincing enough with all their reasons, why other than hatred killing criminals is the best way for us to be the most just society.

Go back to the drawing board. Study. Come back when you're not angry, and then we shall listen... there is a thin line between anger and insanity.


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