By Raymund Antonio
The case of convicted rapist-murderer and former mayor Antonio Sanchez showed the need to reform the country’s justice system instead of reimposing death penalty, Vice President and opposition leader Leni Robredo said.
In her weekly radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni,” Robredo noted again the social class disparity in the present justice system which should be addressed.
“Ang hindi ko matanggap, iyong mga nagsasabing panahon na talaga para ipasa iyong death penalty. Kasi ito nga iyong pruweba na huwag ipapasa—huwag ipapasa kasi talaga iyong mga maykaya, sila lang iyong makikinabang noon,” she said.
(What I can’t accept is the people who are saying that it’s time to approve the death penalty. Because this is the proof that it should not be passed. Don’t pass it because only the rich will benefit from it.)
“Iyong mga mahihirap na walang means para kumuha ng mga mahuhusay na abogado, sila naman iyong lugi. Ang dapat gawin ay ayusin iyong justice system natin,” she stressed.
(The poor who have no means to get good lawyers will be at a disadvantage. What should be done is to fix our justice system.)
The Vice President reiterated her call for justice system reform in the Philippines, amid the public outrage over the reported possibility that Sanchez may be released from prison under the law on Good Conduct Time Allowance.
This, as several officials allied with the Duterte administration were using last week’s controversy regarding Sanchez to justify the reinstatement of death penalty.
Robredo, who was a lawyer for the poor before she entered politics, cited the flawed justice system, which needs a “complete overhaul” to address the long resolution of cases, the “political” nature of appointing judges, and the lack of access of the poor to quality legal services.
“Ang problema talaga hindi iyong batas, pero iyong implementasyon (The problem really is not the law, but the implementation),” Robredo said.
“Saka ang problema, iyong mga maykaya, iyong mga mayayaman, may kapangyarihan…sila iyong gumagamit ng mga paraan para makaiwas sa batas,” she added.
(And the problem is the rich and powerful people who find ways to get around the law.)
The lady official also noted that Republic Act No. 10592 carries good intentions, with benefits eyed for persons who demonstrate good behavior while serving time in jail, but Sanchez is not qualified given his numerous violations.
“Napakaganda niya kasi binibigyan ng pagkakataon iyong mga nagkasalang magbagong-buhay,” she said.
(This is good because those who committed crimes will be given a chance to start a new life.)
“[H]indi naman ito eligible bigyan ng second chance. Kasi iyong pagkakakulong sa kaniya, iyon na iyong chance niyang mag-reform, ‘di ba… Pero itong si Mayor Sanchez, nakakulong, ilang beses nahulihan ng drugs, ng shabu, ilang beses na maraming violations,” she said.
(He is not eligible to be given a second chance. Because his imprisonment, that is his chance to reform, right…But Mayor Sanchez was caught with illegal drugs, shabu for a number of times, and committed several violations.)