A Christmas wish for the President – be the gift of life and not the penalty of death

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

President Duterte, again in a moment that I can only surmise as hyperbolic, vowed that should the death penalty be reinstated in the country, that he will execute five to six people a day. I am not sure if this includes Sundays, holidays, and Christmas.

As I have said, I like the President. I can take him any day, and twice on Sundays, and on unlimited basis on holidays, including Christmas.

I take this opportunity to affirm my support to the President, for which I have been pilloried and my professional reputation has been demeaned as that professor who sold out to the devil.

He may be evil to his critics, but he is not to me, nor to the millions who see him in a different light.


On this season of giving, what I see in him is a giving President. I see in him a personification of the three wise men, the Magis from the East, who brought gifts to the child Jesus.

His government gives free irrigation to farmers, and vows to give free hospitalization and medicines to the poor.
While I have serious problems with the free tuition in state universities and colleges, I like the principle behind it, and attribute its flaws more to the fact that it was a budgetary insertion that happened in a bicameral conference, and did not pass through the rigors of committee hearings and technical study. I am confident that its flaws will be addressed by Congress in a separate law.

He may be a hardliner on the issue of drugs, but I would rather see him as the giver of life rather than a harbinger of death, as one who establishes drug rehabilitation centers all over the country. These centers cater to the needs of those who want to redirect their lives away from the culture of death associated with drug addiction.

The President provides hope to many. He is the change that is thirty years in the making. He is the personification of a revolution, after it has been betrayed by the elites who took over it after the dictator had been ousted.

But my support to the President does not include support to his stance on the death penalty.

My opposition to the death penalty rests on the fact that whatever benefit we get from it will not make us more human. On the contrary, it makes us less. Death penalty has been shown not to be an effective deterrent to crime. What will deter crime are the swiftness of justice and the certainty of punishment.

To impose the death penalty now without improving the efficiency and quality of our justice system can only but weigh heavily upon the poor and the powerless. Richer criminals can have the resources to procure the best legal defense their money can buy, and can take advantage of the legal technicalities and loopholes.

Judges are not infallible, they can commit mistakes. While setting a criminal free is a blight on society, hanging an innocent person who simply does not have the resources to retain the best lawyer is not different from the death of innocent victims. Such would be an unforgivable act that diminishes our humanity.

The President himself admitted that his bias towards the death penalty is not born out of his belief that it will deter crime, but instead considered such as an act of retribution.

But an eye for an eye can leave the whole world blind.

Allied to the President in this view is the ultra-conservative and uber-clueless Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao who had the temerity to push for the death penalty even as he advocates for a day reserved for honoring the Bible. He mouths passages from the Old Testament without being conscious of how succeeding generations of theologizing have supplanted practices associated with the Old Covenant Law, which in the New Testament Jesus Christ challenged and changed.

Senator Pacquiao, a confessed serial adulterer who since have mended ways, would have been punished by death under the Old Testament as per Leviticus 20:10.

But Senator Pacquiao was given the opportunity to reform. Under the graces of the new interpretation that is celebrated in Romans 6: 23, the wages of sin is still eternal death but adultery no longer carries the penalty of death under our laws. And he is now a Senator and a pastor. He was given another chance in his life, which he now would like to deny other sinners, and criminals. Adultery, by the way, is still a crime.

President Duterte should endeavor in this Christmas season to emulate the wise men from the East, and celebrate the virtue of giving the gift of life, instead of being the harbinger of death. He should not be like the Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus to death for violating the laws under the Old Testament which people like Senator Pacquiao would like to celebrate.

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8 Comments

  1. I am one of your avid followers. However, i could not agree with you on this piece. I am for the revival & strict implementation of Death penalty. Knowing pinoy mentality, i won’t take chances.

  2. I empathise with you Prof.Contreras, my friends in Phil. are suffering same harassment from their yellow co workers for being a DDS. But they have decided to support him all the way, because of hope they see in him although they know he`ll make decisions contrary… it is out of love for the only country we have and to make it a better place to live…long live our Pres. in better times and in worst of days….

    -You avid reader in whatever your decisions may be in the future-

  3. While many disagree with his “wild pronouncements” , his defense of the Region 8 CIDG acts , his seeming knee-jerk promises of funds for the armed components of the government, there are many other positives.

    Example, he goes to calamity stricken regions regardless of whether these are “his” or regions beholden to the money spread out by the previous admin. He ven visited Batanes, I wouldn’t have.

    He goes out of his way to visit wounded soldiers and policemen.

    And he can dare the CPP-NDF s foreign leaders !!

    All things considered, even only after 6-months, he definitely already overshadows the immediate past Noynoyer !!!

  4. Leodegardo Pruna on

    There are some points in the writer”s commentary which I don’t agree but generally I go with his statements about Du30. Du30 is a pragmatist and a realist. His tactic is to instill the psychology of fear. It has not yet reach the very apex of the pyramid hat is why we still see what we see about the drug situation. The three decades served by previous administration, specifically the 16 and a half years the mother and son served were total waste. Nothing new, even in their own province, resulted except that their administration created the oligarchy in the province. I think that even just the case of the killing of Ninoy being solved was an accomplishment to them which they did not. And, to dream of the “Nobel Peace Prize”. We should hope for change to be in the making with Pres Du30 which by all indication is in the offing. God bless the Philippines. God save the Philippines.

  5. Death penalty is to be imposed to the people who committed crime without mercy and conscience.e.g.. convicted killer, convicted raper, convicted drug lord and and drug protector, convicted plunderer. Why do we give them a chance to live these convicted criminals when they didn’t give a chance to live their victims! Remember Lem Seng and Pepe Oyson….!

  6. Personally I am for death penalty to those who committed horrendous crimes and are hopeless recidivists. But I agree though that this will be an effective deterrent to future crimes if the current justice system in the Philippines is overhauled. Presently the scale of justice is tilted in favour of the influential and wealthy. With their money they can prolong and prolong the case proceedings and influence the lawyers and judges such that the case is always delayed to the detriment of the poor. Thus, the saying justice delayed is justice denied never sounds more true than anyone can ever understand its impact on the down on luck and the disadvantaged.

  7. Sir,

    Avid reader here.. follower in fb too..

    “To impose the death penalty now without improving the efficiency and quality of our justice system can only but weigh heavily upon the poor and the powerless. Richer criminals can have the resources to procure the best legal defense their money can buy, and can take advantage of the legal technicalities and loopholes.”

    – isn’t the opposite also true? that right now with our poor justice and prison system, prisoners aren’t really rehabilitated? they just turn worse? i’m not saying that killing them just makes it easier… but we don’t have means to make them better persons now..