Poe, Gordon stand firm against death penalty
Without judicial reforms, Sen, Grace Poe is standing pat against the imposition of the death penalty, saying it was not the only solution to the country’s problems.
“Alam mo, hindi lang naman death penalty ang solusyon,” Poe, a member of the majority bloc in the Senate, said in an interview. “Sa ating lipunan, kailangan diyan ay mayroong kasamang law enforcement, community. Kasama na din diyan ang hudikatura.”
(“You know, the death penalty is not the only solution. In our society, we also need to have law enforcement, community. And the juidiciary is also included.”)
“Kung hindi natin ire-reform, halimbawa masasabi ba natin na talagang repormado na ang ating kapulisan para mabawasan, halimbawa, ang pagpaplanta ng ebidensya? Yun ang aking pag-aalala ngayon,” she said.
(“If we don’t have reforms, can we say that the poice are truly reformed so that there will be fewer instances of evidence planting. That’s what I’m worried about now.”)
The senator did not also buy other people’s argument that the death penalty would help reduce vigilante killings in the country.
Poe admitted, however, that, at first, she considered pushing for capital punishment for heinous crimes. But she had a change of heart after seeing the current justice system and law enforcement in the country.
“Sino ang nabibiktima kapag hindi maayos ang sistema ng hustisya at ng enforcement? Eh di yung mahihirap na hindi kaya ng magagaling na abugado at natatakot sa mga pulis, na hindi naman tama ang ginagawa ng iba,” she pointed out.
(“Who gets victimized when the system of justice and enforcement is not in order? The poor who can’t afford to have good lawyers and who are afraid of police officers, some of whom are not doing what’s right.”)
Asked then if she was inclined to vote against the death penalty bill in the Senate, Poe said: “Sa mga sinabi ko, siguro naman in sum, yun na yon.”
(“Based on what I’ve been saying, I guess that’s it.”)
“Sapagkat kinausap ko na rin naman ang mga ibang kasama ko. Sabi ko: Di ba napag-usapan natin, bago mag-death penalty vote ay judicial reforms muna?” she added.
(“I have talked to some of my colleagues. I said: Didn’t we agree that before the death penalty vote we should reforms first?”)
Another majority member, Sen. Richard Gordon, reiterated his opposition to the death penalty bill.
The measure has already been approved by the House of Representatives. But it remains pending at the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which Gordon chairs.
Gordon believes that an “improved prison system and a stricter policy on life imprisonment would deter criminality more effectively rather than the re-imposition of the death penalty.”
“It’s a bigger deterrent kapag nakita na nakakulong yung masamang tao at nahihirapan,” he said in a statement. “Pati ang pamilya mahihirapan, kasi magdadala ka ng pagkain, bibisita ka, malulungkot ka. Wala pang maghahanap-buhay para sa pamilya. Lalong mahirap yun kesa pinatay ka na lang tapos makakalimutan din. Kaya yung iba, papatay na naman o gagawa na naman ng ibang krimen.”
(“It’s a bigger deterrent when you see that the bad guy is in jail and suffering. Even the family will suffer because they will have to bring food and visit him and they will be said. And nobody will be breadwinner of the family. That’s harder than just killing you and you will just be forgotten. So others will kill again or commit other crimes.”)
The senator proposed that inmates sentenced to life imprisonment should be sent to a separate penitentiary where the public could see their suffering while being subjected to hard labor.
“Pag kinulong mo ang isang tao at ang sistema natin, ang penal system natin ay ikaw ay nasa malayong lugar, mahihirapan ang pamilya mo para bisitahin ka,” he said. “At dapat malaki ang publicity. Meron tayong website: Etong taong to pumatay to kaya siya nakakulong. May stigma sa pamilya mo. Aba’y papatay ka ba ng tao? Nakakahiya yung pamilya mo kapag ika’y nakapatay ng tao tapos ikaw nakakulong ka for life.”
(“If you jail a person and our penal system requires you to be put in a faraway place, your family will find it hard to visit you. And the pubicity should be extensive. We could have a website showing that this person killed someone. That’s why he’s in jail. Your family will have a stigma. So will you kill someone? Your family will be shamed if you kill someone and you’re imprisoned for life.”
Despite his stand against the bill, Gordon maintained that there was no need for him to inhibit himself as chair of the committee.
“Though I’m personally against the reimposition of the death penalty, I don’t think there is a need for me to inhibit as chair,” he said. “I will be fair in conducting the hearings and when it’s time to sponsor the bill on the Floor, I can assign one of the proponents of the bill to sponsor it. It has been done before.”
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had earlier said that the death enalty would be already “dead” in the Senate with 13 senators likely to vote against it. /atm
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