Saving Death Convicts; It's Time to Import Rice

Manila Bulletin, January 15, 2005 | Go to article overview

Saving Death Convicts; It's Time to Import Rice


(EditorEs note: The image of public defenders of old has changed for the better. Rice smugglers donEt analyze and wait for authority cited in this article.)

METAPHORS alone cannot move the Supreme Court to reconsider death sentences imposed by trial courts nationwide. The court may affirm or reduce the penalty imposed or return a verdict of acquittal.

Reward of hardwork

Persistence and scholarship may prove rewarding in any government office that employs lawyers, like the Public AttorneyEs Office (PAO) under Persida Rueda Acosta.

PAOEs pro bono assistance has recorded acquittals, registered lesser sentences than outright death, and won 48.31 percent of its cases.

If this batting average were on the side of prosecutors, thereEs no need to report to the nation that crime rate has ebbed at last.

Hardwon acquittals

In 2002 and 2003, Director AcostaEs office won 34 acquittals in heinous crime cases that could send all the accused to death by injection for nothing.

The MB report on the subject (Jan. 13, p. 6) is not clear but quoting it may suffice: "A total of 51 condemned prisoners have been freed thru the help of PAOEs free legal aid program."

Public defenderEs era

Years ago, the shingle of a public defenderEs small room in capital towns had a second line: "Notario Publico." They probably handled free cases for the accused, but stamping public documents with his notarial seal for a living was not part of free legal aid.

One such defender in a town in Panay faced a serious suit for slapping his seal below the signature of a vendor of a homelot who died 10 years earlier, presumably without his knowledge.

Dead land seller eappearsE before notary

His defense did not please the presiding judge who directed his attention to the document stating in part: "Before me personally appeared vendor so-and-soa"

The judge himself was moved by doubt whether the Notario was ignorant or just LAX. Laxity as cause saved the day for the public defender.

Defending indigent defendants in criminal cases is a legacy from US constitutional law and jurisprudence which our Constitution sanctifies.

Importing rice as usual

After four storms in November and December flooded Central and Eastern Luzon provinces, accompanied by landslides and "logslides," our grains officials proudly announced little damage was done to rice farms, because, according to them, large-scale harvest occurred in the nick of time.

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Saving Death Convicts; It's Time to Import Rice
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