‘No rectification of error’ if death penalty returns – Aquino

MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III does not agree with his successor Rodrigo Duterte’s push to reinstate the death penalty.

Aquino pointed out on Wednesday, July 24, that the country’s criminal justice system is “imperfect” and still prone to errors. 

Should the capital punishment be reimposed, Aquino, who also served as senator and congressman, pointed out the obvious: that there would be no second chances for executed Filipinos. “Buhay ka pa, may chance ka pang makabawi. Paano ‘pag death penalty, patay ka na?… ‘Yong death, permanent. Wala ng rectification of an error. ‘Pag nagkamali doon, wala na, tapos na, sorry,” said Aquino in an interview with Net25. (READ: An eye for an eye: Can the death penalty bring justice to victims?)

(If you’re alive, you still have a second chance. But what if there’s death penalty and you were executed?… Death is permanent. There is no rectification of error. If they make a mistake there, there’s nothing you can do, it’s over, sorry.)

The capital punishment was abolished in the Philippines in 2006 under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

But in his 4th State of the Nation Address last July 23, Duterte asked Congress to reimpose the death penalty for drug-related crimes and plunder. (READ: House Minority Leader Abante backs return of death penalty

Aquino said the justice system has to be fixed first.

He recalled that when he was still Tarlac congressman, they were given the chance to observe proceedings in the night courts, where some lawyers would tackle 24 to 35 cases at a time. The ex-president said that to expedite the process, judges would impose a guilty verdict, though the fines would be minimal.  

“Parang halimbawa lang ‘yon na ipinakita sa akin na talagang hindi mo masasabing perpekto ang ating justice system…. Kung hindi natin mape-perfect ‘yon, tingin ko hindi tama ‘yong pagkakaroon ng death penalty,” said Aquino.

(That’s just an example shown to us why you can’t really say our justice system is perfect… If we are unable to perfect that, I think it is not right to have the death penalty.) 

In the past 17th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the bill seeking to revive the death penalty for drug-related crimes only. But the measure did not fly in the Senate. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.