Weak justice system makes death penalty revival risky— priest

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Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle visits the residents of the Manila City Jail, March 23, 2016. (Maria Tan/CBCPNews)

MANILA, June 10, 2016— A coalition of organizations opposed to the death penalty has warned that the country’s weak justice system may wrongly put innocent people on death row.

Jesuit Fr. Silvino Borres, president of the Coalition Against Death Penalty, said that given the “imperfections” in the criminal justice system, the prospect of executing innocent people remains.

“Death penalty renders judicial errors irreversible,” Borres said, renewing their opposition against the plan of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to revive the capital punishment.

He said it is “disturbing and alarming” that Duterte was firm in his stand to restore the death penalty that was abolished in 2006.

For one, according to him, several studies indicate it does not deter crime.

A genuine response to crime, he said, is not only measured by the severity of its punishment but by the certitude of arrest and conviction of offenders.

While they laud Duterte’s resolve and tenacity in fighting crimes, the priest also said the death penalty is “biased against the poor.”

“Death row was rife with stories about how people were not given adequate and competent legal counsel during their trial,” said Borres.

“Also, it eliminates clemency, forgiveness, and rehabilitation by the justice system. Contrary to popular opinion, the pursuit of justice is not incompatible with mercy and compassion,” he added. (CBCPNews)

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