Monday, August 29, 2011

Pilipinas Forum 1: Crime and Punishment, the beloved discussion group that I and friend Monching Romano created in 1999, will turn 12 years old later this week. I will post some of the collated exchanges here. The exchanges are long, grab your favorite snacks and enjoy the witty and serious discussion here.

This was posted in, June 3, 2001

On Punishment and Fairness

Re. Erick P's idea to raise the cost of corruption, reinforced by Vikki's posting that "if the penalties of imprisonment under the tax law were really executed--there would be less BIR people inclined to be corrupt or less taxpayers who would dare evade taxes." Since we have the death penalty in place, we only have to turn a few knobs more in our execution parameters, say, instead of lethal injection, corrupt BIR people can be given a special treatment, that is: death by garrote on national TV. A close up shot on face of the erring taxman is highly recommended to capture on screen and successfully etch on the minds of future evil-doers that this is what is in store for them.

If we are lucky, we will only have to do this once. If the cost of corruption is this high, in terms of pain and humiliation down the family line, then the applicability of Erick's economics of corruption shall be forever in the mainstream of fiscal policy and tax collection solutions. The reason why the death penalty is not working is that the execution procedures have been glamorized. But if you do it the gory way and show it from batanes to uruguay, the death penalty is going to work.

–Ozone Azanza

Let us not kid ourselves a moment more. We must move beyond DISCOURSE to RECOURSE and indeed truly make EXAMPLES of these vile villains if we are to retain even a modicum of that creature we call the Dignity of Man. Let us then enable ourselves as is our right of recourse, to disable, decapitate & discombobulate these evil disabling elements and trust me as you would our Grand Inquisitor Ozone Azanza de Torquemada when he says: "Death by garrote on national TV...”

Blood & gore, pain & humiliation and death because of taxes. Yan ang SAMPOL. My dear friends, only through this action alone will we ever see the light where we gladly all shall pay it again and again and again.

–Sam Aherrera

I know and I can sincerely relate with the frustration that we all have with regards to our present system be it tax or whatever, as clearly espoused by the different posts of esteemed people of this forum. However, as we are indeed aspiring albeit sometimes half-hearted citizens as Sampler Sam so perfectly puts it, I found it rather contradictory that we would having these sort of solutions, SAMPOL according to Sampler Sam, to our already impossible problems.

Forgive me if I seem too soft on this issue, but what is justice if its meted out with such cruelty to so appear fearful and as such strike fear in the hearts of the citizens in a society where it is tasked to keep order. Because it does not matter that only the guilty will surely feel that fear, human systems are inherently prone to fault, and thus to abuse. What is then to be our difference with the heartless dictatorial systems of our materially successful East Asian neighbors? Surely, only the material success. Peace!

--Anna Liza Su

What is Fairness that it escapes us?
Fairness be good,
fairness be just,
for vengeance and
revenge do we not lust?

Punishment in the hands of God will always be a mystery. Punishment in the hands of men will always be questioned for fairness. But my thesis today is not about whether the very act of Punishment is fair or not. Rather I ask, FOR WHAT END is Punishment meted out? That for me defines the fairness of Punishment.

Punishment will never restore what is lost with the crime committed -- whether that lost was life, property, or trust. Never. Therefore, punishment is not restorative. But it is. Because punishment restores our trust in law and order, in the justice system. That is the only thing that Punishment can restore. If the Punishment does not achieve that purpose, to restore our trust, then even that Punishment has failed us.

Punishment carried out in this respect is Fairness. Only when it is abused does it become unfair.

Again I ask, for what end is punishment meted out? If it will rid our country of corrupt civil servants and politicians; if it will expose those who abuse the trust of the People; if it will stop the rape of our daughters and the murder of our sons -- then it is fair. Then it is just. But, it has to be sweeping. All those found guilty, whether by law or by circumstance. And consistent -- the same chopping board and rusty butcher's knife for a fallen president and for a government cashier.

--Aspiring Citizen Kori Coronel

I tender the opinion that it is not the punishment attached to a crime which deters its commission. To be honest about it, lets face the fact that rape despite having capital punishment as its attached penalty has even increased from the time when it was still punished with life imprisonment.

I bravely state that rather than the penalty, it is the certainty of arrest which deters the commission of a crime. This is the example in Japan, Switzerland and Singapore and to a certain extent, the USA, where the law enforcement agencies have a very high crime solution rate.

The only downside to this affair is that it is also claimed that the accused virtually has no rights under the laws of either Japan or Singapore. The solution lies on the strengthening and cleansing of the PNP, NBI and other law enforcement agencies. We must update their training in crime solving as well as increase their pay and benefits.

--Mel Velasco

Dear Kori, re consistency in the application of the laws. I completely agree with you. Right now, I feel that there are more than enough laws to punish wrongdoers (whether it be for violation of the tax laws or any other law). Penalties appear to match the offenses except with respect to fines which I feel must be updated to account for inflation. What I find lacking is consistent implementation.

As Mel Velasco observed, what would scare people is the certainty of being hailed to court and jailed for wrongdoing--no matter who you are or how wealthy you are. The arrest of Erap is a step in that direction. However, the government must be consistent. If there are other wrongdoers (i.e. Ramos) and there's enough evidence-- I think that s/he should also be made to answer for those charges. No one person must be singled out if we are to honestly pursue earthly justice. We create our own heaven after all. And if we are to manifest even just the semblance of heavenly justice, we have to start somewhere--which is the here and now.

--Vicky Suarez

Kori said that the punishment is fair when it restores our trust in law and order. i agree.
Today, there are still countries whose punishments entail lashings and hands being cut off and we think they are uncivilized. but people who live there don't think so. they are glad for this system. why? because they see that there is law and order and they are safe.

While we on the other hand, think we are luckier to be here where punishments are much more civilized and humane. but for what? we have crimes that are so heinous, newspapers don't even need to sensationalize it. Women raped at such an alarming rate and 90% of the time, these women know the offenders. so it is not just rape, it is a violation of trust. which for me, makes it an even bigger crime. so when these rapists are caught, the rational and obvious reaction would be that we walk him to the town plaza and cut his fucking penis off. but what?? but what do we do? because of media, we see the man cry and say his sorry and then some pastor comes on and says that god is forgiving and that once a sinner repents, he should be given a second chance.

A man high on drugs who has just raped his three year old daughter is shown on tv bloody because of police violence. and then what happens? people get mad at the police. abusado, tao rin naman yun, dapat hindi nila binugbog. the criminal is then seen as the victim.

So i say. yes to punishment, the more exacting the better. to hell with the values of forgiving. the church has enough hypocrites. and to hell with media's sob stories of these poor criminals driven to crime by poverty or drugs or abusive families. or these poor criminals are people too crap. punishment should be fair. I agree with sam completely. sampol ang kailangan on national tv. And if they need someone to pull the trigger, i'll be the first to volunteer.

frustrated citizen,

--Marylou Malig

I say remorse can be twenty-twenty. Just like hindsight, yes? But not all the time. But remorse can be feigned to escape scrutiny. The killer can apologize to dodge punishment. But i do recognize the concern expressed by Anna Liza Su, about the goriness of the ideas said here about punishment. Its the gore that changes people at the core. We want change, we change from the inside.

--Ozone Azanza

First off, let me say that with a few qualifiers, I support the death penalty. I do agree that there are crimes so heinous, so detestable, one would not think it were humanly possible for a crime like it to happen, and that for redress to happen entails taking someone else's life.

But the Universal Declaration on Human Rights specifies in Article 3 that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or security of person." When we talk of crimes, no matter how repulsive we might think the act is, we are still talking about a human life. Both victim and offender are human beings, and that recognition should not be taken away from either one of them.

Instead of looking within ourselves and asking why in our country such detestable crimes could happen, we opt for the easier route - we call out for blood. And why not? Isn't it much easier to just get rid of these sick poor jokers who have violated our laws? Isn't it much easy to just label them as criminals and never bother to even look into the reasons why they are criminals in the first place? Isn't it much easier to just line them up and execute them rather than to actually rehabilitate them? Isn't it much easier to get off the high moral ground and just do away with forgiveness and compassion? And oh, while we're at it, let's make the criminal's punishment as sick and grotesque as possible -- make him bleed till he's dead. Let me just say that I find this rather irrational and uncalled for.

Blood -- is that what justice is all about?

What should restore our faith in the law is not the severity of the punishment but the certainty that no one gets away with crime. Law and order doesn't come from seeing people assumed guilty and bludgeoned to death, or dragged through the streets naked, or stoned or whatever. We can only have faith in the law if its rule is unassailable. Punishment is not a prerequisite for order and the rule of law. Faith in the law is a natural consequence of seeing it implemented in as humane a manner as possible without regard to class or social status, and its implementation precise, just and swift.

–Vince Cruz

Vince, Let me say your posting was an excellent piece! It is so much easier to punish than to try to understand why the crime was committed in the first place. Unless we address the environment that has made such crimes conducive and con-vince-ingly :) improved on the ability of the police and the courts to arrest and convict, then punishment by death will not really deter the commission of crimes.

Risk to criminals can be defined as the "probability of being caught and convicted" x "impact of conviction". Therefore, even if the "impact" is increased say by imposing death penalty, as long as the probability of being caught and convicted is "slim" (and it seems that the rich and powerful have an undue advantage here), then the "overall risk" to the criminal would be slim. What Vince is really saying is that we should improve on the "probability" or certainty of punishment than the punishment itself. Increasing the probability from 5% to 50% will be more frightening to would-be offenders than changing life imprisonment to death penalty.

Erap's case is a good example - it is not the death penalty that is important but the restoration of public confidence in the impartiality of the judicial system that matters. We can further boost the public's faith by implementing far more aggressive reforms to deter corruption. As long as criminals can run away easily (as the Marcoses have done all these years), then the imposition of even stricter punishments won't really mean anything.

--Ronald Villanueva

Vince asked: "Blood -- is that what justice is all about?" Sometimes. As long as our society hasn't matured to the level whereby people voluntarily submit themselves to the rule of law for the good of all, coercive force will be necessary.

Some legal philosophers, in explaining the origins of law, state that rules are designed to enable people to live and thrive together in peace and harmony within complex societies. Transgressors of such rules--being threats to the survival of the society--would be punished for creating disturbances or even damage to the society. Since the rules had to be implemented, society created an institution--the government--to oversee its implementation. To ensure that rules were followed, penalties--taken from the root word "pene" meaning pain--were created--to discourage would be transgressors from violating the rules. The greater the damage to society--the heavier the penalties.

Will blood and gore be necessary for crimes too heinous that they defy description? At this point in our society's evolution , yes I think so. Should it be done publicly? I don't think so. Violence, even if institutionalized, is still violence. It may work to achieve a short term goal-peace and order as society defines it. But what would be its effect on the psyche of individuals? Would we be any better than the mob that stormed Malacanang?

–Vicky Suarez

From Ronald’s post, and to simplify succeeding discussions below, let:

R = Risk to criminals
Pc = Probability of conviction
H = harshness of punishment
M = mentally-deranged criminals
CC = commission of a crime

R = Pc x C (Ronald V's equation, where C = impact of conviction)

Instead of "impact of conviction", "harshness of punishment" (H) may be the more appropriate term.

On H: Even if the Pc will remain 5%, i.e., no improvement in the administration of justice (from the courts to the police & jail system), if the "harshness of punishment" (H) has increased, say from life imprisonment to death by lethal injection to garrote, blood and gore, then perceived risks in committing the crime will increase.

On M: Even if the Pc and H have increased, but the criminal is simply "halang ang bituka", too drunk or too drugged to think rationally, then he/she will still commit the crime.

Pc must improve: administration of justice, timeliness, efficiency and impartiality of police & NBI investigation, administration of jails, etc. should improve. But this is something that will take many years to materialize. Whereas if we increase H, from "glamorized execution procedures" to "blood and gore", both M and R will be affected, though not totally.

Thus, Renaming C into H: R = Pc x H (eqn. 1)

Adding variable M: CC = M + (1/R) (eqn. 2)

Eqn. 1 says that Risk to criminals (R) increases as the probability of conviction (Pc) and harshness of punishment (H) increase. Hence, they will be deterred from committing a crime. Though this will not be absolute.

Eqn. 2 says that commission of a crime (CC) is inversely related R and directly related to M. Thus, CC will decline as M decreases and as R increases. Even if M=0, CC will decline as R increases.

A person who raped his own daughter REPEATEDLY is an animal. He's not entitled to compassion because this is something that he deprived his own daughter, other women, other people, and their families.

–Nonoy Oplas

I guess the danger of emphasizing H is that we might convict an innocent suspect because of the incredible flaws in our judicial system. This danger is very REAL - poor suspects who have no access to the services of good lawyers face greater likelihood of conviction than the rich who can hire expensive, well-trained and well-connected lawyers and can even bribe the judges themselves! Increasing H without real reforms in P would then be anti-poor!

--Ronald Villanueva

Hi Nonoy, You make some good points, but I'd like to add (or rather modify) one variable. Harshness of punishment is highly subjective, not only because of temporary or permanent mental incompetence for whatever reasons, but also because of one's position in life. While a hard working family man may abhor the thought of having to spend time in prison, it may not be a deterrence at all to an unemployed without family who is living on the streets. Similarly, some people don't care if they live or die, not simply because they are drunken or drugged, but because there is little worth living for in their lifes.

This brings us back to the poverty issue - give people a life worth living, and they'll be less likely to stray. For people who can't learn their lessons from sitting in jail, maybe corporal punishment needs to be introduced. 10 strokes with the cane may be more of a deterrent than a couple of weeks in prison.

–Peter Scholz

Hi Ronald, Nonoy, I agree that M should be included in the equation but i disagree that it should be regarded as a binary variable only. In fact it should range from 0 to 1 where M will only be 0 iff a person is deranged because then can we only regard R as 0. This is because how can a person care if he is crazy right? But if he has even an iota of sanity in him, i think, R should be >0 - unless masokista yung tao, in which case irrational criminal siya (meron bang ganun ?) :)

Pero let me introduce other variables, P(subscript: BH) and BH as in Buhay Hari. Take Jalosjos for example. I think his R was mitigated by these variables. Saan ka naman nakakita ng convicted felon na Congressman na may sariling clubhouse sa loob ng kulungan na.

So the equation should read as R = f( (P(subscript: H) x H), M, (P(subscript: BH) x BH))

So in raising R, we should raise the first term and reduce the third term. Yung second term kasi wala tayong handle eh di ba? Unless ipasok natin and Pm where Pm is the probability of being adjudged crazy, in which case, may handle na tayo to bring M down.

--Ricky Lozari

Yung Pc (or probability of conviction) dapat himayin pa siya sa ganitong paraan:

Pc = P1 x P2 x P3

P1 = internal consistency of rules
P2 = stability of rules
P3 = quality of the enforcement of rules

On P1: Syempre dapat internally consistent ang rules at di contradictory sa bawat isa. Kung hindi aabusuhin lang ito ng mga naka-violate ng rules dahil bawat galaw may lusot (o di kaya protracted na apila).

On P2: Dapat din ang rules e stable hindi papalit-palit bawat pasok na administrasyon. Mawawala yung idea na ang mga rules e negotiable at naka-depende kung sino ang umuupo.

On P3: Hindi dapat nabibili yung mga naatasang mag-enforce ng rules. O di kaya effective dapat ang enforcement.

–Erick Planta

In the period of my existence, I have seen only ONE graphic, gory and bloody execution on nationwide Philippine TV. This was in 1972. A man by the name of LIM SENG, an alleged drug pusher was executed before a firing squad. After that execution, ALL drug-pushers operating in and out of our high school suddenly disappeared. All teenage parties thereafter had only beer & cigarettes to contend with. That was 29 years ago. Now the drug menace is back with a vengeance.

Why my dear Vince is crime, whether against the state, against persons or against property back with a vengeance? Why does it reign supreme? Could it possibly be because there is not enough punishment? Could it be because there are not enough examples to deter these acts against the state, persons or property?

We have not even given capital punishment a chance to prove its efficacy of deterrence and here you are demanding that we hold it in abeyance. The sword of the state is ready to decapitate crime and you ask that it be sheathed instead. Blood & gore in its purest & basest form is what will keep you & I, your children & mine their safety and peace of mind.

--Sam Aherrera

Dear Marylou, YOU WROTE: a man high on drugs who has just raped his three year old daughter is shown on tv bloody because of police violence. and then what happens? people get mad at the police.

Because it is wrong. The man is accused of a crime; it is for the courts to impose punishment for whatever crimes he has commited. The only thing the police can do is restrain him or stop him if there is an immediate and clear threat from him. Pero if he was beaten up just so that he could be beaten up that is wrong. It is a violation of the principles of due process. It's quite a simple principle: every person accused of a crime must be given a reasonable chance to defend himself before an independent judge or tribunal. It is done for the following reasons:

a) To enforce the law clearly and predictably. If the law books say that the punishment for a certain penalty is X and you enforce X + Y, then that is unfair. The law and government must be fair, otherwise people will not trust it, and eventually find it oppressive.

b)There is the possibility that the person accused is innocent. Is every person accused of a crime guilty of it? How will we know unless he or she is given the chance to prove himself. Wrongful accusations happen, and it is up to the court to find out who is telling the truth, and to mete out the corresponding penalty. The police do make mistakes...

I am sorry, I do not agree with the premise that for justice to be effective, it must be imposed brutally and without regard for principles of due process. Neither do I agree with the death penalty.

-- Bob Herrera Lim

I still think that it's not the harshness of the penalty but the consistency in the application of the laws that will create some peace and order in our country. There's got to be an overhaul of the judicial system. Those identified to be on the take (judges down to sheriffs) should be vigorously prosecuted and stripped of their membership in the IBP and publicly humiliated para matakot ang mga ibang lawyers. Lawyers caught corrupting members of the judiciary should also be prosecuted and completely disbarred from practice.

As for the death penalty, it's there and it hasn't acted as a deterrent so far. In fact , if tabloid media is to be believed, there's more blood and gore (not the kind inflicted by the law enforcement agencies televised via satellite nationwide) since 1994--when the death penalty for heinous crimes first came into force.

--Vicky Suarez

Dear Mary Lou, You wrote, "today, there are still countries whose punishments entail lashings and hands being cut off and we think they are uncivilized. but people who live there don't think so. .."

True... and the governing concept is called cultural relativism... but do Filipinos interpret a nationally televised asphyxiation, electrocution, head and penile decapitation, or death by garrote of criminals as acceptable punishments? i would infer that the cases you've cited are of secular Singapore's and the Islamic countries, respectively... and in their case, while it might appear shocking or grotesque to many Filipinos, they find it acceptable... but how about in a predominantly (hypocritical?) Christian/ Catholic Philippines? do these methods embody our Christian tradition and heritage?

I agree with the sampol thing... but NOT on national TV and NOT using the death penalty. I agree with the UNIFORM ENFORCEMENT aspect of it... hulihin lahat ng mga taong nagkasala sa Batas at bigyan ng kaukulang kaparusahan...

--Poch Bermudez

I would like to add a few figures to the Probability of Conviction. At De La Salle, we are now doing research on the prosecution process, and we found that from from 1979 to the present, the Ombudsman has been able to get only about 240 cases of successful conviction for violation of the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act RA 3019. In concrete terms, it meant the conviction or successful prosecution of only about 5 case, 3 cases, etc. annually. The largest number of successfully prosecuted cases was one year when 28
cases was the record. The last few years, the successful prosecution has been for less than ten cases each year mostly.

So in simple language, the Pc or probability of being convicted is almost zero for those engaged in graft and corruption. Corruption and shenanigans like these are a low risk, and high profit activity. Death to the plunderers!

--Joey Ledesma

Dear Vicky, I'm just wondering what purpose then would a bloody and gory punishment serve if only the executioner and the criminal knew about it? I think the reason why sam and ozone espouse such method is because they presume that it would have a deterrent effect. Hence, I believe, they were simply illustrating the "deterrent" feature of the method and that the "pain" caused by such method only becomes corollary.

While I do not discount that there, indeed, is a clear and direct correlation between such punishment and crime rates, the right to LIFE, LIBERTY and the pursuit of HAPPINESS of any individual, in any democracy, remains to be the most important secular concern. That LIFE, bereft of its religious and metaphysical importance, could still be one less innocent convict in this country or one less potential inspiration for the many "wimps" or "cowards" who choose to live their lives in the realm of their seeming perception of faith, hope, andcompassion and who are deprived of their happiness by its subtraction. These are just some instances where LIFE, in a secular sense, becomes all too costly and important to be experimented with, and therefore, its preservation, under ALL circumstances, becomes not only a matter of secular importance but of democratic necessity.

--Poch Bermudez

Dear Poch, Pain is relative… What is "painful" would be the following:

Loss of Property--Fines
Loss of Liberty--Imprisonment
Exile--Destierro (for crimes of passion)
Loss of Life--Death Penalty
Accessory Penalties--Can't vote, can't hold public office or run for the electorate, etc.

As to my objection to public exhibition--well--there are kids around, di ba? Gusto mo ba ma expose sa violence ang mga bata. That involves sensitive material. Besides that, if sex is generally banned from public exhibition, why shouldn't violence be treated in the same way?

As far as I'm concerned, the death penalty--is blood and gore for me. I was lucky to leave the Supreme Court and transfer to the Court of Appeals when the Death Penalty was restored. How will it deter criminals--wouldn't just the risk of dying for an offense be deterrent enough? It's enough that the information is disseminated--that someone has been executed. No need to show it to the public.

--Vicky Suarez

Dear Sam, How could you make sure that there is a direct correlation between having rich people executed and the crime rate going down? Are you sure it is the severity of the punishment meted out to them, or is it the fact that they were supposedly untouchable yet were punished that perhaps made people think twice about doing drugs or poking their penis in places where they don't belong?

If those executions have continued, do you think it could have actually sustained people's fear of getting caught? How long before their shock value lost their impact? How long before the novel became the mundane? Our penal system employs the whole gamut of penalties for breaking the law, from paying a fine to paying with your life. So it is not a matter of having inadequate punishments, but of inadequate will. Or yes, RESOLVE, as you put it. But resolve should not be equated with cruelty, I don't think they mean the same thing.

–Vince Cruz

Vince, how can I make sure of this thing you call direct correlation when you won't even allow it to happen? Moreover, how can I convincingly deduce cruelty as a deterrent force on the basis of one prior case if you continue to deprive us of another similar event? And would just two events make for a good coefficient of correlation?

So we have the laws but don't have the will. Ecstatic you saw my point.

-Sam Aherrera

Dear Sam, In your earlier post you said when in the 70s, Lim Seng and the Maggie de la Riva suspects were publicly executed, crime rate went down and the thugs in your Mandaluyong neighborhood vanished. In those sentences in which I've paraphrased here, you have already made the conclusion that cruelty and deterrence are directly correlated. Yet in your reply to my reply, you say we can't really know for certain whether cruelty will be a deterrent (because we doves won't let you hawks have what you want). So who is being incongruent here?

-Vince Cruz

Dear Bob and all, I accept your point that in pursuing justice, the innocent may be wrongfully accused and punished and that is why there is a need for due process and that it is for the court to decide on the weight of the evidence and the just punishment.

Why are we so afraid of meting out capital punishment, not even just capital punishment, any kind of punishment for that matter? okay, if its because of human rights, well then explain this. what about our human rights? why is it that we just have to live with the fact that we can't go out at night alone, especially if you're a woman? why is it accepted as a part of life when your bag gets stolen? car gets stolen? your house gets broken into? why is it that getting raped just makes you a statistic in a study on deviant and criminal behavior? why? isn't it MY human right to live in a safe place? isn't it my human right to not get raped?

– Marylou Malig

Dear Marylou: Countries can be safe without using the death penalty. The difficult question is: Why? My biggest problem with death penalty is that we as citizens of this country have given our approval for the state to execute people in a premeditated way. What if that person executed was innocent? What exactly do we call the premeditated killing of an innocent person? A mistake, maybe. An irreversible mistake.

I believe the reason we feel so frustrated with the criminal and justice system is that it does not work predictably. Criminals get off because they have good lawyers or the prosecutor is overworked, or the judge is corrupt. If that is the case, then the important thing is to make the penal laws work--to make them efficient and to increase the probability that if you commit a crime, you will get caught and you will be punished. That is what we need to enforce the laws. But enforcement of the laws is a different issue from the type of punishment that must be meted out, or the procedures allowed for those accused of crimes.

Do not use an ax where a surgeon's knife will suffice.

–Bob Herrera-Lim

More than two centuries ago, the Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria, in his highly influential treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), asserted: "The death penalty cannot be useful, because of the example of barbarity it gives men." True, and even if the death penalty were a "useful" deterrent, it would still be an of barbarity." No society can safely entrust the enforcement of its laws to torture, brutality, or killing. Such methods are inherently cruel and will always mock the attempt to cloak them in justice. As Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg wrote, "The deliberate institutionalized taking of human life by the state is the greatest conceivable degradation to the dignity of the human personality." Enuff said.

–Anna Liza Su

Dear Vicky, When we talk of punishment, fairness, rights, responsibilities, government & resolve, only one thing comes into my simplistic & finite mind and that is, the future of my children and their children's children. But what is their future?

When someday you have a daughter, will you allow her to go to school unchaperoned? Will you allow her to go to the mall by herself? Will you allow her to take public transportation alone? Will you allow her to drive herself home alone? At night? If you do allow her, will you be able to withstand the tension, apprehension and fear of a mother while your daughter is not yet home?

When you do get to that stage, I would love to hear your own definitions of anxiety, trepidation and fear. By then, maybe, just maybe you would appreciate our conviction that a bloody & gory punishment on nationwide TV should have been done earlier so that your daughter may enjoy the liberties & freedom that should be theirs and succeeding generations as well.

–Sam Aherrera

Agree ako sa mga points na binanggit ni Vicky:

1. proper enforcement of the laws.
2. access to resources for poor defendants may I add the following:
a. increase in funding for public defenders for indigents (to attract competent lawyers, the pay has to be attractive enough to lure them away from private practice)
b. access to DNA testing (accepted na ba in Philippine courts and use of DNA?)

To curb corruption, I agree that there should be consistent enforcement of the laws. Marami na tayong batas. Kailangan lang ipatupad. As for the death penalty, I support it. Except that, I would like to see that poor defendants will get competent lawyers to defend them in court. I want to see the poor have the same access like the rich to resources to defend themselves. Right now, I am more inclined to believe that the death penalty is anti-poor.

-Jojo delos Reyes-MacAllister

For all those who argued against death penalty, for fairness, etc, we can write and practice it in the courts, but the other ugly world out there calls for blood for blood. Our society is near implosion. I hate to be Marxist, but there is a class war sans the ideology. I hope it is not more vicious than what the classic class war of the left is waging. The poor with their confused culture headed and manipulated by the crooked, criminals and the opportunists versus the educated middle class and the cultured rich. War will settle everything, from tax laws to criminal prosecution, death penalty at iba pa.

Death to the plunderers!

-Joey Sescon

Agree. The justice system (or any other system or institution for that matter) draws in the participation of the ordinary citizen in its operation. Something along the lines of militias (for the military & law enforcement), paramedics and community health workers (for the health care system), etc.

Ang nangyayari kasi thus far, we've delegated / relegated control of our lives (laws, health, even religion) to so-called experts (priests, doctors, lawyers, etc.). It may have been useful (lalu na sa panahon ng INdustrial Revolution and subsequent history), but I believe that time is past.

-Dino Subingsubing

Dear Sam, In an earlier post, you cited one example that happened in 1972 to support your argument. My dear Sam, you cited that one example out of context. It took place during Martial Law. Mind you, there was peace on the surface-but outside of the metropolis-a different violence was taking place. Peace was not real because there was fear in the hearts of people. They could not speak openly for fear of being detained, salvaged, whatever. It was an artificial peace-maintained by military might. Violence was taking place elsewhere with arbitrary detentions. Incidence of rape was high--perpetuated mainly by members of the military.

Life is too precious to be treated cavalierly. Criminals may be what they are-persons who have become outcasts and social pariahs by reason of their acts. That does not, however, diminish their humanity. As such, they must still be accorded some respect-if only to respect that humanity.

–Vicky Suarez

Vince said something about the initial "scare" of a gory death penalty fading away and soon it will become mundane. Death can be mundane, but if one is to contend with the gory portion of the gory death penalty idea, i have heard of hardened criminals willing to die in a shootout than be tortured nice and easy towards a slow death. I have heard of bold soldiers who shot their own mortally wounded comrades, comrades who begged them to pump a bullet in their skull lest they be captured and chopped to pieces, an inch at a time, by the enemy. Gore becoming mundane is a stretch. It will always haunt us like wrong grammar.

–Ozone Azanza

To Sam, As I said --I'd like to know what your position would be if it happened to be one of your children selected for your much vaunted blood and gore experiment. You seem so absolutely sure that nothing of that sort could ever happen to any member of your family.

Also, I'd like to know how you would decide if you had to read cases involving capital crimes and have to draft the recommendation/ decision based on the records--without seeing the accused or the accuser--with only the briefs written by lawyers to go by--lawyers who often don't write well or argue well but get their cases up to the Supreme Court anyway.

To Ozone, I speak from experience. I worked with the Supreme Court and then Court of Appeals right after law school. In the Supreme Court, the civil and labor cases and even consti law cases didn't bother me. It was the criminal cases that did--especially since at the time I was there--puro rape cases ang nandoon--therefore reclusion perpetua was the penalty (for laymen--Penal Code title for life imprisonment) that would have been affirmed. That required wisdom. Most of the cases pending there involved poor people represented by PAO lawyers, who I believe are overworked, underpaid, and not motivated to be good lawyers for the accused.

Mel Reyes, another lawyer (Pfer) who worked in SC told me her Justice literally broke his pen when he affirmed the conviction of those three cop killers. It is no joke. It's easy to cry blood and gore and be done with it--but when you're the one who has the responsibility to make that decision--you'll realize there are no black and white areas in the law where life and liberty are concerned.

–Vicky Suarez

1 comment:

Brian said...

I would really love to see a reform. Our punishments are way too much for the little crimes people commit. I understand it for the bigger crimes, but really?