Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday reiterated her call for justice system reform in the Philippines, amid the heated debate over the reported possibility that convicted former mayor Antonio Sanchez may be released from prison under the law on Good Conduct Time Allowance.

This as several officials allied with the administration point at Sanchez’s case in justifying the reinstatement of death penalty in the country.

VP Leni underscored anew that reimposing capital punishment poses more problems, given the disparity of treatment between the rich and the poor under the present justice system. 

“Ang hindi ko matanggap, iyong mga nagsasabing panahon na talaga para ipasa iyong death penalty. Kasi ito nga iyong pruweba na huwag ipapasa—huwag ipapasa kasi talaga iyong mga may kaya, sila lang iyong makikinabang noon. Iyong mga mahihirap na walang means para kumuha ng mga mahuhusay na abogado, sila naman iyong lugi. Ang dapat gawin ay ayusin iyong justice system natin,” she said on her weekly radio show, BISErbisyong LENI, on RMN-DXZL 558. 

According to Robredo, who spent years as a lawyer for the poor, a “complete overhaul” may be needed in order to address problems like the long, arduous process in resolving cases; the “political” nature of appointing judges; and the poor’s lack of access to quality legal services.

The Vice President also noted that Republic Act No. 10592 carries good intentions, with benefits eyed for persons deprived of liberty who demonstrate good behavior while serving time in jail. 

“Napakaganda niya kasi binibigyan ng pagkakataon iyong mga nagkasalang magbagong-buhay,” she said.

“Ang problema talaga hindi iyong batas, pero iyong implementasyon. Saka ang problema, iyong mga may kaya, iyong mga mayayaman, may kapangyarihan… sila iyong gumagamit ng mga paraan para makaiwas sa batas. Iyong kawawa talaga iyong mga mahihirap, hindi na binibigyan ng pagkakataon na madinig,” she added.

During the show, VP Leni again said that Sanchez is not qualified for early release based on good conduct, given his numerous violations while incarcerated, including illegal drug possession and having a luxurious “kubol”.

“[H]indi naman ito eligible bigyan ng second chance. Kasi iyong pagkakakulong sa kaniya, iyon na iyong chance niyang mag-reform, ‘di ba… Pero itong si Mayor Sanchez, nakakulong, ilang beses nahulihan ng drugs, ng shabu, ilang beses na maraming violations,” she said. 

Earlier, VP Leni said she shares the widespread public outrage over Sanchez’ supposedly impending release, adding that she is glad that Filipinos have expressed strong opposition to it.

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