Home News Fr. Aquino on death penalty: Constitution disallows cruel, inhuman punishments

Fr. Aquino on death penalty: Constitution disallows cruel, inhuman punishments

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TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines– Judicial process is a human process. And a human process tends to be fallible.

This is how Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of San Beda Graduate School of Law, explained one of his reasons why he is opposing the reimposition of death penalty in the Philippines.

“You know the judicial process, no matter how well meaning, how diligent, how intelligent our judges are, remains a human process. And every human process is fallible,” Aquino said in an interview on Thursday, March 9.

Aquino said the fallibility of the judicial process, which means there is a possibility that “an innocent man could be executed, should be enough to stop us to reimposing the death penalty.”

The House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 7, voted to pass into its third and final reading the controversial House Bill 4727, the bill that seeks the return of the death penalty.

‘Cruel, inhumane’

Aquino maintained that the reimposition of the death, even if there’s a provision that it can be revived, will violate the Constitution.

The Constitution’s Article III, Section 19, meanwhile, states that: “Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall the death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.”

This provision, on Aquino’s submission, is “inconsistent.”

He said that the Constitution’s Bill of Rights “very clearly says, that cruel and inhuman punishment shall not be inflicted” to a convicted person.

“Because if you say we are not going to allow cruel and inhumane punishment, what can be more cruel and inhumane than ending the life of a person,” Aquino added.

Supreme Court’s job

With the passage of the death penalty bill in the lower house, some anti-death penalty advocates are planning to go to the Supreme Court (SC)

But a legislator said the SC could not intervene just yet at the process of crafting the law.

In his recent interview with ANC Headstart, Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas said the Supreme Court “can not go into the wisdom of the law,” meaning only the Congress could determine if there is a compelling reason.”

Aquino agreed with Farinas, but he said that’s not why people would go to the SC.

“We will not go to the Supreme Court on grounds that are political, that are left to Congress. We know better than that,” Aquino said.

He said they will go the SC on the issues that are rather “justiciable.”

“When you ask a question like is the law beneficial, is the law sound, is the law economical? The Supreme Court will not delve into that question. That is a question left to the Congress. However, that’s not why people will go to the Supreme Court, in case the death penalty is passed. They will go to the Supreme Court because number one, they will ask whether or not the death penalty is consistent with our constitution,” he said. Northernforum.net

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