Former President Benigno Aquino III opposes his successor’s push to bring back the death penalty for drug-related crimes, saying the imperfections in the Philippine justice system makes wrongful convictions likely.
In an interview with Eagle News after President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Aquino said keeping a convict alive would allow the government to make amends in case the person is wrongfully convicted of a crime.
“Napaka-imperfect ng ating sistema at yung death, permanent. Wala ka nang rectification. Pag nagkamali doon, wala na, tapos na, sorry. So kung hindi natin mape-perfect yun, palagay ko hindi tama yung pagkakaroon ng death penalty,” he said.
Aquino shared that he used to be for the imposition of capital punishment until he was exposed to the justice system’s shortcomings as a lawmaker.
As a congressman from Tarlac, Aquino said he found out that lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office handle as much as 35 clients each.
For the sake of convenience, he said some PAO lawyers resort to entering a guilty plea for their clients in exchange for a lesser sentence instead of fighting for the person’s innocence.
“May iba nagsasabi praktikal yun. May ibang nagsasabi, yung PAO hirap na hirap din. Pero sa dulo, kawawa rin naman yung tao. Kunwari inosente pero nakakulong,”Aquino said.
The former President noted that advances in technology have led to the discovery of wrongful convictions in other countries. He said it is not unlikely that such a development will happen in the Philippines.
“So buhay ka pa, may tsansa ka pang makabawi, parang ang death penalty, patay ka na, ay sorry ha?” he said.
Duterte reiterated his push for restoring the death penalty in his SONA Monday (July 22), asking Congress to bring back capital punishment for drug-related crimes and plunder.