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MEL STA. MARIA | Why the death penalty should not be re-imposed
The online news portal of TV5

Empirical data shows that 71.77 percent of judges in the Philippine lower courts have imposed the death penalty by mistake.

Had these cases not been reviewed by the Supreme Court, all the accused would have been unjustly killed despite having been accorded due process of law.

In People v. Mateo (G.R. No. 147678-87 July 7, 2004), the Supreme Court, through Associate Justice Vitug, said:

"Statistics would disclose that within the eleven-year period since the re-imposition of the death penalty law in 1993 until June 2004, the trial courts have imposed capital punishment in approximately 1,493,[16] out of which 907 cases[17] have been passed upon in review by the Court. In the Supreme Court, where these staggering numbers find their way on automatic review, the penalty has been affirmed in only 230 cases comprising but 25.36% of the total number. Significantly, in more than half or 64.61% of the cases, the judgment has been modified through an order of remand for further proceedings, by the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law or by a reduction of the sentence. Indeed, the reduction by the Court of the death penalty to reclusion perpetua has been made in no less than 483 cases or 53.25% of the total number. The Court has also rendered a judgment of acquittal in sixty-five (65) cases. In sum, the cases where the judgment of death has either been modified or vacated consist of an astounding 71.77% of the total of death penalty cases directly elevated before the Court on automatic review that translates to a total of six hundred fifty-one (651) out of nine hundred seven (907) appellants saved from lethal injection.

Human beings are fallible. Even judges commit mistakes.

As Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, has eloquently put it -- “[t]he forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it to another, even when backed by legal process.”

I agree. And that is why I strongly believe that even for this practical reason alone, the death penalty should not be re-imposed.