Angara not yet ready to back capital punishment

Published July 30, 2020, 11:36 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Thursday admitted he is not ready to fully support legislation calling for the reimposition of the death penalty for drug-related crimes, saying he needs more evidence that the country’s justice system is prepared to execute it in a fair and just manner.

Sen. Sonny Angara (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I’m open but I need to see compelling evidence that this will be effective in deterring heinous crimes,” Angara said in an interview over ANC Headstart.

“I (also) need to see compelling evidence that our justice system is ready to implement this in a fair manner and would not be favoring the poor litigants or the poor sectors of our society,” Angara added.

“So these are the things we need to consider and we also have to see the cons and benefits of such a policy.”

Angara said he doesn’t want “miscarriages of justice” happening in which state prosecutors would be killing the wrong people.

The Senate restarted discussions on the death penalty two days after President Duterte’s State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last Monday where he prodded Congress to expedite its passage.

But the Senate remains “divided” on the issue and Angara himself is still undecided on the need for a death penalty.

Nevertheless, he said lawmakers need to weigh the cost and benefit of reviving the death penalty in the country, recalling that when then President Gloria M. Arroyo pursued the law abolishing the death penalty in 2006, the main proponents for its lifting not only cited humanitarian reasons but also effectivity.

“The European Union was one the main proponents for the lifting (of the death penalty law) back then, not just for humanitarian reason but also for effectivity. They were saying it was largely ineffective,” Angara said.

The EU also linked it to trade privileges of the country, particularly the GSP+ or the Generalized Scheme of Preferences, which was renewed a few years ago during the beginning of the Duterte administration.

“So those are the things we are looking at going forward…we will look and ask the experts what their views are on this issue. Is it really effective, for instance, in deterring crimes or must it be accompanied by reforms which make the judicial system effective?” he said.

“I think one comment of one observers of our judicial system is that, we have a lot of convictions, yes. But those are of small (drug) crimes, the smaller amounts, the runners (are convicted).”

“But if you are talking about the big fish, parang madalas mas naa-acquit yung mga to (they are more frequently acquitted). So I think that’s something you have to talk about and consider — the justice system and the death penalty — hindi mo mahihiwalay yan (You cannot separate those two),” Angara said.