To say it clearly and put it briefly: As no government is the author of human life, no human life may be taken by any government. Furthermore, just as no human law can bring about human life, this may neither be taken away by any law of man. Finally, death penalty is the summit of injustice when a justice system is dysfunctional. And this is the reality when certain dynasties, certain families and many individuals live and act above the law of the land, when the demands of justice are neutralized by the tenure of power, the possession of wealth.
Practically whenever heinous crimes get the attention of tri-media and hit the sensibility of public conscience, there is some kind of a clamor for the re-imposition of death penalty in the country. And this reaction is in some way still good and proper—even if only for the following reasons: It shows that a good majority of the people still value human life over and above everything else. It also proves that most of them are angered in a special way by those who treacherously take human lives away. It also confirms that irrespective of their status in life, Filipinos by and large still craves for justice in principle.
It has to be pointed out however that in this country, the Justice System has become progressively dysfunctional. Translation: The high and the mighty are above the law. The poor and the helpless are the victims of law. Justice has become selective in its relevance and application. Injustice is the lot precisely of those who have less in life and resources. That is why as a matter of course, those perpetrate and perpetuate huge crude graft and uncouth corrupt practices in the national level, those who engage in smuggling in staggering proportion, those who make enormous money from the calamity of others such as that caused by natural disaster—all these are untouchable by law and its enforcers as they specifically remain beyond the reach of justice.
These are deviate characters who customarily and callously suck in enormous public funds precisely intended for the common good and the public welfare of the people. These are the sick and sickening personalities who eventually cause the poverty and misery, the hunger and sickness of millions of Filipinos, who thus contribute to their hopelessness and eventual death. In other words, they are the eminent examples of those who in truth strangle people “in style”, who in reality kill people “softly”. In the last analysis, these coldhearted and ruthless individuals are themselves eventually guilty of heinous crime, of hideous massacre—and in very large scale.
Yet, the on-going shouts for the re-imposition of death penalty in the land do not have these large-scale assassins and murderers in mind. It appears that on account of a long selective observance of the law and discriminatory application of justice in the country, even a good number of the general Filipino public could also have an already dysfunctional understanding of justice. Death for those who shoot and kill some individuals. But never mind those who tightly strangle and eventually kill millions of Filipinos.
No to death penalty. Yes to a functional justice system. No to killing of murderers.
Yes to their life imprisonment.
21 May 2008