Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian made the statement in reaction to calls by some senators for the re-imposition of the death penalty amid the upsurge in heinous crimes like kidnapping involving of the Philippine National Police or PNP.
Gatchalian, who used to serve as Valenzuela City mayor, emphasized the need to upgrade the PNP’s investigation skills not only to solve crimes but also to better their image.
“Before we even talk about death penalty, there should be reforms in the police and the judiciary first. There were instances during my time as Valenzuela City chief executive that suspects were arrested on questionable, shaky basis like hearsay, just so the police can satisfy the public clamor for the immediate arrest of suspects,” Gatchalian said.
“If we impose death penalty, there is a huge possibility that the innocent will be put on the death row even without credible evidence that he committed a heinous crime,” he said.
Gatchalian expressed concern that with the current system, it is very easy to set up an innocent, poor person especially by corrupt policemen especially if the fellow cannot afford court fees and a good counsel who will handle his case.
He pointed out that “there should be solid, scientific evidence instead of positive identification only so no innocent person will be wrongly accused. Positive ID is the usual practice among policemen just so they can have suspects.”
Gatchalian also moved that PAO’s budget be increased so it could attract new, bright minds to step up its ranks.
“The salaries of state lawyers must be raised in order for the government to be competitive with private law firms,” said the legislator. “This is crucial as people who do not have the resources to hire a private defense lawyer go to PAO for help. (R. Burgos)