Monday, October 15, 2012

change of heart

yesterday, i watched a movie that (i believe) would change my life forever.

it started with an email from one of the lawyers at work last friday. she told us to watch GIVE UP TOMORROW, a documentary about paco larranaga and the chiong murder case that happened way back in 1997. now, i grew up reading about hubert webb, and while i never really formed an opinion as to his guilt or innocence, i firmly believed that there was reasonable doubt as to his guilt when i read the supreme court decision acquitting him. as for paco larranage, well, i had heard about the crime, but i never really knew much about it. so when kbbb asked us to go watch the movie, it wasn't really out of curiosity about paco's plight as it was to verify her statement that the movie showed how bulok our judicial system is. coming from the disappointment on how the senate (with the help of the media) railroaded corona's impeachment (not to say i am for corona, but i do believe that they weren't able to prove that what he did was an impeachable offense).

i entered the movie house expecting a two-hour discovery channel - like documentary. i came out with a heavy heart, not only cause i knew there wasn't much i could do about it, but because the very system that's supposed to make the world a better place has severely failed this one person. and if this one person who had the luxury of the spanish government's assistance is still suffering for a crime he may not have committed, how many innocent others are there inside our jails?

of course, there's that joke that everyone inside bilibid is innocent. i am a lawyer, i must believe that the system does work most of the time. but what about those times when it hasn't? would the interest of the many whom we are saving be greater than that of the "evil man" from whom we are saving them from? what if we got the wrong "evil man"? what if the judge made a mistake, hoping the court of appeals would scrutinize those he skipped during his deliberations, and what if the court of appeals made a mistake, believing the supreme court would make a more intensive deliberation, and what if the supreme court, finding merit in the unanimous decisions of the trial court and the court of appeals, decides that affirming their decisions is more prudent than finding the man innocent? so many what ifs in exchange for a man's life.

most of my life i've believed in the vindictive kind of justice. the death penalty, for me, was fair and just for the most heinous crimes. but when a man's life is on the line, knowing all the frailties that come with being human, can one really be the proper judge to decide whether a man ought to live or not?

two days ago, i would've said differently. but yesterday changed me. yesterday, it finally struck me that if abolishing the death penalty means that the life of one innocent man among hundreds of guilty men may be saved, then so be it. because no one really knows for sure. no one.

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