Priest warns that death penalty is ‘biased against the poor’

  • A priest-led coalition warns that the death penalty is “biased against the poor”
  • According to the group, imperfections in the justice system risks putting innocent people on death row
  • President-elect Rodrigo Duterte plans to reinstate the death penalty under his administration

A priest-led coalition warned those supporting the reinstatement of capital punishment in the country that the death penalty is “biased against the poor” due to the weak criminal justice system.

Jesuit priest and president of the Coalition Against Death Penalty, Fr. Silvino Borres noted that the “imperfections” in the country’s justice system makes allowing the imposition of death penalty all the more risky, and does not eliminate the prospect of executing innocent people.

“Death penalty renders judicial errors irreversible. Death row was rife with stories about how people were not given adequate and competent legal counsel during their trial,” Fr. Borres told CBCP News.

While Borres praised President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for his tough stance against illegal drugs and crimes, he warned that Duterte’s plan to bring back the death penalty is “disturbing and alarming.”

He also added that several studies have already pointed out that the death penalty does not deter crime.

As such, Borres pointed out that a genuine response to crime is not only measured by the severity of its punishment but by the certitude of arrest and conviction of offenders.

“Also, it eliminates clemency, forgiveness, and rehabilitation by the justice system. Contrary to popular opinion, the pursuit of justice is not incompatible with mercy and compassion,” he said.

The death penalty was officially abolished in the Philippines in 2006, through the passage of Republic Act 9346. The Roman Catholic Church has also been a previous opponent of the death penalty.

Meanwhile, President-elect Duterte said he plans to reintroduce capital punishment under his administration, as part of his campaign against drugs and criminality.