Roxas on Duterte's brand of justice: A return to dark ages

MANILA, Philippines – He was asked about his position on the death penalty. The standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) went beyond rejecting its possible revival; he said he would fight “summary justice” because this would mark a return to the “dark ages.” 

In an interview with reporters during the launch of a housing project in San Juan City on Thursday, December 10, Roxas hit one of his rivals in the 2016 presidential race, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, without naming him.

Asked to comment on Duterte’s call for a revival of the death penalty, Roxas said he’s against it, adding: “Hinding hindi ako papayag na summary justice. Ano ito, right is might? Kung sino lang may baril, siya ang mananaig? Eh bumalik na tayo sa dark ages noon, na kung saan yung makapangyarihan lang, yung may baril lang ang siyang iiral. Hindi tama iyon, lalabanan ko ito."

(I will never agree to summary justice. What is this, right is might? Where the person with a gun, only the powerful, has a say? That’s not right. I will fight against that.) 

On the death penalty, he explained: “Ang pagbabalik ng death penalty dito sa akin ay hindi susi laban sa kriminalidad. Ang susi laban sa kriminalidad ay iyong imbestigasyon, paghahabol at pag-aaresto hanggang sa paglilitis nitong mga salarin na ito. May death penalty ka nga, di mo naman mahuli ang mga kriminal, mga salarin. Kung nahuli mo naman ay mahina ang pruweba, ang imbestigasyon, ang patunay. So it's not the penalty, it's the certainty of arrest, of apprehension, and of conviction that’s a deterrent to criminality."

(Returning death penalty in the country is not the key to fighting criminality. The key to fighting criminality is investigation, going after and arresting criminals, those guilty. If you catch them but your evidence, the investigation, the proof is weak.)

The two are candidates in the May 2016 presidential race, which also includes survey front-runner Senator Grace Poe, opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. 

“Summary justice” refers to a criminal law system wherein criminals are punished swiftly, sometimes without trial. 

Duterte, a lawyer, has been linked to the infamous “Davao Death Squad,” a loose group of vigilantes said to target criminals in the city. He has not denied allegations that he uses force to combat crime in his city.

“When I said I’ll stop criminality, I’ll stop criminality. If I have to kill you, I’ll kill you. Personally,” Duterte told Rappler in an interview prior to announcing his presidential bid. 

Roxas and Duterte were friends but their relationship has since turned sour after the Davao mayor accused the LP standard-bearer's camp of spreading rumors that he has cancer.– Rappler.com