Press Release
September 2, 2017

Sen. Leila M. de Lima on President Duterte misrepresenting our penal system
Dispatch from Crame No. 147

In his recent statements, Duterte, while hurling unstatesmanlike insults on the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Killings for doing her job, not only misrepresented French law, but also Philippine law.

He misrepresented that our penal laws follow a purely retributive philosophy, and made grossly ignorant and reprehensible attacks on the humanity of people who find themselves in conflict of the law and under the jurisdiction of our correctional system.

In truth, our penal system--particularly our laws and the penalties that lawmakers painstakingly calibrated to impose on offenses--attempts to balance out both the penal and restorative aspects of an ideal correctional system. As it should--because the penalty has to be commensurate to the crime, and once served, it must leave the person capable of being reintegrated into society. That's why it's called both a penal and correctional system, not a slaughterhouse.

I am surprised the President doesn't know better when the mantra of his fraternity is: "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth", often called "lex talionis". The mantra means "law that exacts the same amount." Not the exact same thing, of course, because literally exacting the same thing will leave our country in a cycle of retaliation, and with a society that becomes sicker and sicker with every act of retaliation.

"Lex talionis" simply means that punishment should not exceed injury. It actually calls for "moderation" in our system of crime and punishment. A term that is perhaps something the President does not understand, just as he doesn't understand that he, as the President, is our leader--not our executioner and butcher.

If there is anyone who needs to learn about penal management, it is the President. He and everyone who works in the implementation of our correctional system ought to educate and train themselves to think like wardens or caretakers, like shepherds that do not abandon those who have lost their way. Instead, they opt for the easy and lazy solutions: kill them all. Kill them because they are nothing but animals.

No, criminals are not animals. At least, not all of them descend to the level of thinking of an animal. If anyone is an animal in this scenario, it is he who looks at the poor and sees easy prey; it is he who looks at people and sees lesser beings. That is not the kind of person we should entrust with livestock, let alone people's lives.

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