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IT will be so tragic if President Duterte gets Congress to reinstate the death penalty. The surge of heinous crimes in the country is not because of the lifting of capital punishment in 2006, but because of the incompetence of immediate past President Benigno Aquino 3rd, whose forces continue to plot against his government.
Senate Bill 42, introduced by former police chief Senator Panfilo Lacson, reveals its gross ignorance: “The alarming surge of heinous crimes in recent years has shown that reclusion perpetua (which replaced execution in a 2006 law) is not a deterrent to grave offenders.”
But what “recent years”’ is Lacson talking about? This logically are the past six years, from 2010 to 2015, when the Philippine National Police was under Aquino’s bosom buddy, Alan Purisima. And it was during these years that there was a near total breakdown of peace and order, with Duterte himself repeatedly saying that we practically had a narco state during these years.
Crime statistics prove this point, and debunk the very wrong claim that the lifting of the death penalty in 2006, the index crime rate even went down from 47.5 that year to 42 in 2007 and 41 in 2008. This completely debunks Senator Lacson’s thesis that the absence of capital punishment encouraged criminals to murder and rape more.
There was a surge in reports of index crimes in 2009, but this was mainly due to a change in the Philippine National Police’s reporting system which expanded what police precincts should report as crimes in their jurisdiction. The PNP also clamped down on many precinct commanders’ penchant to under-report crime incidences to make it appear that they were excellent law enforcers in their territory.
As a result, the number of index crimes reported rocketed up from just 36,057 in 2008 to 301,703 in 2009 and 204,979 in 2010, probably as police precinct commanders thought it was safer to err on the side of more crimes, not less.
The reporting system, however, seemed to have normalized in the first years of the Aquino regime, registering 218, 160, and 135 index crimes per 100,000 people in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively.
However, the index crime rates surged in 2013 and 2014, to 466 and 493, respectively. Those huge numbers practically indicate a crime wave: from just 129,161 index crimes in 2012,the number more than doubled to 458,000 in 2013 and 492,000 in 2014.
This can only be explained by the breakdown of peace and order in the country, as the PNP under Purisima and Aquino lost control of the police, which likely were demoralized by the incompetence of the two. Aquino and his sidekick, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who was officially in charge of the PNP, were also unconcerned about the surge in crime.
The illegal-drug problem had also proliferated, reflected in the data that homicides — committed often by drugged addicts — more than doubled, from 3,000 in 2012 to 6,500 in 2013, while incidences of physical injury zoomed from just 35,000 in 2012 to 223,000 in 2013.
The data is indisputable. The surge in heinous crimes was not because of the lifting of the death penalty in 2006, but because we had such an inutile President, incapable of addressing the country’s perennial crime problem.
This of course is not something unique to the Philippines. A comprehensive study in 2013 (“Relationship between police efficiency and crime rate: a worldwide approach,” European Journal of Law and Economics) evaluated the relationship between crime rates in a number of countries from 1998 to 2006.
Its firm conclusion: It is police efficiency rather than such factors as population density, GDP per capita, or unemployment rate, that mainly determines crime rates in particular territories.
The well-known case here is of course is New York City in the 1990s where Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s get-tough approach to crime, as well as other major policy changes (including such simple moves as immediately erasing graffiti on walls and trains), very dramatically brought down the metropolis’ crime rate, with violent crime declining more than 56 percent.
Before Congress pushes to restore the death penalty, which would be a step backward in our march towards becoming a civilized society and would put us in the club of such countries as North Korea, Yemen, and Iraq, it should let Duterte do his work first in addressing the crime problem.
Capital punishment is also so against the poor who can’t afford lawyers: After the four rich brats sentenced to death for the rape of Maggie de la Riva in 1967 (three were executed, one died in prison from drug overdose), I am not aware of any rich Filipino meted the death penalty, and actually killed. Are the rich genetically saints?
There just isn’t any proof that capital punishment deters crime. Why rush in restoring it? It will be so sad if the Senate passes a law not based on facts, but motivated by emotion or the calculation that this would appeal to voters. We’re aghast, and sick and tired of extra-judicial killings. Now you want judicial killings?
After all, we all agree that Duterte is so totally different from his wimpy and lazy predecessor, and he can lick crime in our unlucky country.
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