Former Justice secretary and now senatorial candidate Leila de Lima on Tuesday said she opposes the position of Sen. Grace Poe and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who have publicly declared their support to bring back the death penalty as a means to resolve crime in the country.
“No empirical evidence anywhere has suggested that the death penalty deters crime. The death penalty should be abolished, not only because there is no correlation between this punishment and crime deterrence, but also its effects are basically irreversible,” according to de Lima.
The State, she said, “has the obligation to guide any offender to a life of reform and become more productive members of society. Even law offenders have a potential to become reformed members of society. For heinous offenses such as drug and human trafficking, rape and other sociopathic offenses such as serial killings and mass murderers, life imprisonment without parole or executive clemency should be enough.” she said.
De Lima cited a finding of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that most of those convicted belong to the lower classes: the poor and disadvantaged, financially unable to pay for their own counsel, relying only on the courts to provide them with a legal counsel.
She was CHR chairman until she was tapped to head the Department of Justice.
The CHR finding, de Lima said, is supported by a survey conducted by FLAG, a lawyers’ group, when death penalty was still in law books, wherein 52.2 percent of those in death row belonged to the lowest social class.
“Instead, we need to ensure that the justice system indeed works: By having a truly independent judiciary who can decide on cases with the highest integrity and will ensure a speedy trial, efficient prosecutors who can closely collaborate with investigating bodies and other law enforcement units for a strong case build-up and a law enforcement sector that will implement the law to the letter, while caring for victims, who were put in jeopardy because of circumstances,” she added.
The former Justice secretary also batted for a modern and simplified criminal code that will allow better response to the times, resulting in a higher conviction rates.