FULL TEXT: ‘Flawed’ PH justice system at risk of executing innocents – Rocamora


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FULL TEXT: ‘Flawed’ PH justice system at risk of executing innocents – Rocamora
As a former prosecutor, Siquijor Representative Ramon Rocamora saw how the Philippine criminal justice system is unfit to handle the reimposition of the capital punishment

The House of Representatives approved on 3rd and final reading the death penalty bill on Tuesday, March 7 with a vote of 217-54-1.

Congressmen were given a chance to explain their votes before the plenary. Among them was Siquijor Representative Ramon Rocamora, who voted against House Bill 4727.

Here is the full text of Rocamora’s speech as provided by his office.


Good evening, Mr Speaker, and my dear colleagues.

I vote no to the bill before us.

To vote otherwise would be irresponsible knowing fully well that our criminal judicial system is not ready for the reimposition of death penalty. Irresponsible, as this flaw or shortcoming in our criminal justice system is conducive to sending an innocent person to death. 

The fact that death penalty is now limited to violations of the dangerous drug law even heightens the need to reject the measure. This is so as it is a fact that in the prosecution of dangerous drugs cases, 60% or more of the charges are trumped-up and supported by planted evidence. I can attest to this having been a public prosecutor for 24 years and had prosecuted countless cases of dangerous drug violations since the passage of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act in 2002. The reason for this objectionable and repugnant practice is the difficulty on the part of the law enforcement agencies in apprehending violators of the law. Yet here we are expecting our police to arrest criminals as they do in television or in the movies. Indeed such things only happen in the movies, so to speak. Precisely because of such difficulty, the practice of evidence planting have now even evolved into extrajudicial killings.

Some people say evidence-planting is justified; after all, the subjects of this practice have been confirmed to be in the illegal drug business through test-buys. To so claim would be to forget that in our jurisdiction an accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by a competent and impartial court. I repeat by a court not by the police. This practice is replete with danger. Danger of false accusation. What is there to stop the police from planting evidence for the purpose of extorting money? We don’t have to look far into the past to come up with an example. I’m talking about the Korean incident at Camp Crame. What is there to stop the police from planting evidence to exact vengeance or simply to destroy another’s reputation.

What I have just discussed is a defect only in the 2nd pillar of our judicial system: The law enforcement.

The 3rd pillar is of course the courts. We have a judicial system where the courts at the level where truth can best be determined (trial courts) are committing errors in the imposition of death penalty at the rate of 7 to 3. Meaning 7 erroneous decisions against 3 correct ones. We have a judicial system where numerous judges and justices and court personnel are dismissed, suspended, fined, and reprimanded.

My fellow representatives, we are fully aware of this flaw in our criminal judicial system. We know as well the danger that this flaw poses: That it is conducive to sending an innocent person to death.

When the bill first listed multiple crimes, I understood where the proponents were coming from. As a former public prosecutor, I have witnessed my own fair share of those gruesome tales they mentioned in defense of their bill. I, too, have been shaken to my core when I uncovered the details of the most horrible murders. I, too, have experienced my blood boil when I prosecuted those who committed the most morally corrupt acts of rape. I, too, have wished death upon these monsters of society. However, I knew, even then, that killing them will solve nothing. For one, there has never been evidence that death penalty resulted in deterrence of criminality.

I say that the best deterrence is a competent criminal justice system that guarantees due process and make certain the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and service of sentence of those who are truly guilty. 

I just want to be responsible. So I vote no. – Rappler.com

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