“A thief ran away from the police, and he was shot dead,” said the anchorwoman. The people on the bus looked at the TV screen, their faces unsurprised, undisturbed. Buti nga, said one passenger.
I’m thinking, If he were brought to court, he wouldn’t receive the death penalty for stealing. Heck, the Philippines already repealed the death sentence.
A blogger tells me she’s ok that under the Cybercrime Law libel is punishable for up to twelve years. I ask, Isn’t that too harsh? She replies, Buti nga para matakot sila.
That’s not the point.
People who break the law deserve to be punished, but the punishment has to be commensurable to the crime committed. This means that a petty thief should not be punished the same way as a murderer. Even if the thief did something wrong, you cannot say that stealing is on the same level as murder.
Our sense of justice shouldn’t be content with lumping criminals all together. We should only approve of punishment if it is a commensurable kind of punishment, a contextualized kind of punishment, the right kind of punishment, the just kind of punishment. Treating criminals justly is a mark of a civilized society, a thinking society, a society that we can be proud of.
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