Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza of Buhay party-list group predicted a “fierce fight” at the House of Representatives over moves to restore the death penalty.
The lawmaker vowed to oppose all measures that aim to revive capital punishment, which the country abolished in 2006.
“We will fight tooth and nail any and all attempts to renew the death penalty and send us back to the medieval ages,” Atienza, former mayor of Manila, said in a statement on Sunday.
The lawmaker said there are at least four bills (two each in the House of Representatives and the Senate) proposing the revival of capital punishment for several serious crimes.
He said that his pro-life colleagues in the House of Representatives will “doggedly” argue against the passage of such measures.
“The problem with the death penalty is that only underprivileged citizens who are inadequately represented at trial would get it. Moneyed people who are able to retain top-notch lawyers would always escape conviction, or get the lesser punishment,” Atienza said.
He added that the poor will be vulnerable to wrongful convictions and mistaken judicial executions once the death penalty is revived.
“Many police officers still resort to torture to extract confessions because they either lack basic criminal investigation skills, or they’ve been paid by somebody to pin a crime on another person,” Atienza said. “We have to advance our scientific methods in criminal investigation, if we are to put more criminals behind bars and discourage the use of fabricated evidence. We have to acquire forensic specialization.”
In earlier statements, Atienza has maintained that raising the certainty of punishment is the strongest deterrent to crime as opposed to increasing the severity of the penalty.
“Cleaning up and improving our criminal justice system is the best way to ensure that every offender is swiftly apprehended and locked up,” he said on Sunday, adding that the death penalty does not serve any purpose that is not already being served by life imprisonment.
The reinstatement of capital punishment is part of the legislative agenda of the 17th Congress.