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CHR chief nixes bid to revive death penalty, blames ‘flawed’ justice system

Posted On 2014 Feb 02
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(Commission on Human Rights logo)

(Commission on Human Rights logo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales on Thursday rejected the proposal to revive death penalty in the Philippines, saying it’s more important to improve the country’s justice system first.

Rosales said she does not believe that death penalty as a method of punishment and crime reduction has a direct correspondence.

“It does not follow that with the imposition of [the] death penalty, crimes will be reduced. The truth of the matter is if you go into our history, and studies … it does not show that the use of capital punishment redowns to the reduction of crimes,” she said.

Earlier, Senator Vicente Sotto III filed a bill seeking to revive the death penalty because of the alleged rise in criminal acts in the country.

In Senate Bill 2080, Sotto cited the “influx of heinous crimes … in the country nowadays” and the “indiscriminate and horrendous brutality happening everywhere” to justify the reimposition of capital punishment.

But Rosales said the influx of crimes in the country may be attributed to the “flaw” in the justice system, “where so many of those accused are not convicted.”

“This is the absence of conviction, and punishment, and an effective litigation of the process that will in fact instill fear to commit crimes,” she said. “I would think that would be a more logical answer that we should give because walang basis ang capital punishment, aside from the fact na gross violation of human rights – the right to life.”

On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino III remained cool to proposals to revive the death penalty, also saying that the country’s justice system should be improved first.

Hangga’t hindi tayo nakakatiyak na talagang nabigyan lahat ng kanyang hustong karapatan para ipagtanggol ang kanyang sarili pag tayo’y may sinentensyahan ng kamatayan, wala nang bawian ‘yun, so palagay ko kailangang pag-aralan nang husto yan,” Aquino told reporters after the awarding ceremony of The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) in Alabang.

Likewise, some senators have also rejected the reimposition of capital punishment in the country.

Instill fear among criminals?

In the same interview, Rosales noted that death penalty may not at all instill fear among criminals.

“Whether or not may capital punishment is beside the point. They don’t think along those lines. Ang mga kriminal, basta if he is dedicated in committing his crime, he will commit his crime regardless what the punishment will be,” Rosales said.

Sotto was earlier quoted as citing the case of Chinese drug dealer Lim Seng, who was executed by firing squad during the Martial Law era. Sotto claimed this had eliminated drug trafficking in the country for at least 10 years.

However, Rosales said: “I don’t know about the direct correspondence na nabawasan … kasi look at us now. Kung nabawasan noon, bakit tayo ganito ngayon? Bakit ang laki-laki pa rin ng problema sa drugs, illegal drug trade?”

Ang globally, that is a big problem. In other countries, may capital punishment, but illegal drug trade continues,” she added.

In 2006, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved the commutation to life imprisonment of death row convicts, and eventually signed a law abolishing the death penalty. (MNS)

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