Death penalty restoration faces stiff opposition

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A plan by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to restore the death penalty faces strong opposition, including from the dominant Roman Catholic Church, officials and analysts said on Tuesday.

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The tough-talking politician on Monday vowed to introduce executions by hanging after he takes office on June 30 as part of a ruthless law-and-order crackdown that would also include ordering military snipers to kill suspected criminals.

After putting to death seven convicted criminals by lethal injection in 1999-2000, the Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006 because of stiff opposition from the Catholic Church, the religion of 80 percent of Filipinos.

“As people of faith, we do not adhere to capital punishment because we do not have the right to judge who should live and who should die,” said Fr. Lito Jopson, head of the Catholic bishops’ communications office.

Duterte’s landslide May 9 election victory does not sway the bishops’ stance, Jopson added.

“It is not based on popularity… but rather on complete moral principles of the Catholic faith and faith demands we respect all persons’ human dignity,” he said.

Duterte said he would ask Congress to reintroduce capital punishment for drug trafficking, rape, murder, robbery and kidnapping-for-ransom, among other offenses.

While many members of Congress have joined Duterte’s ruling coalition, passing such a law is by no means assured, political science professor Javad Heydarian of Manila’s De La Salle University said.

“Duterte at this point has tremendous political capital and crime-busting is the centerpiece of his campaign,” Heydarian noted.

“But he will face major pushback by human rights groups, the Catholic Church and likely… the outgoing President [Benigno Aquino 3rd], who once described his successor as a dictator in the making,” the professor said.

The plan itself is opposed by the Commission on Human Rights, an independent government body that Duterte cannot abolish and whose current officials he cannot replace.

It reviews proposed legislation affecting civil liberties.

“We will do our best to lobby against the reimposition of the death penalty,” said Banuar Falcon, chief of the commission’s international division.

Rep. Leni Robredo, who is leading the nearly completed electoral count for Vice President, said also on Tuesday that she opposes capital punishment.

And the local office of human rights monitor Amnesty International said it would call on other rights groups to lobby Congress and educate the public against bringing back capital punishment.

Malacanañg also on Tuesday also reminded Duterte that rule of law should still prevail in prosecuting criminals.

“The President as Chief Executive is duty-bound to enforce the laws of the land, fairly and justly,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a news conference.

“As a body created by the Constitution, the Commission on Human Rights is well within its duties to espouse adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights as it makes commentaries on these pronouncements,” he added.

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4 Comments

  1. Teddy Sevilla on

    This is the third article that I’ve read of the plan to reimpose the death penalty for various crimes INCLUDING robbery, so it is not a misquotation Even in the most barbaric states of today, I do not know of one where life is taken in exchange for an act of stealing. Baka plunder pa.

  2. tony de leon on

    CBCP is a nuisance. they oppose the family planning or RH bill then now look what we got? over population and more basic services strained. traffic, lines in buses and trains, etc. there is your produce and produce babies. now soon there will be overpopulation in our jails. then where do they put these overcrowding prisoners? set them free? plus the cost of feeding them and medical? why not just execute them. saves money and not to worry if they escape and kill again. Death penalty must be returned. I remember during early years of martial law late pres marcos ordered execution of Lim Seng. the largest morphine dealer. after his firing squad the drug menace went spiraling down. drug dealers were on the run. Now criminals walk around killing and robbing people at will. this has to stop. and ka Digong is right. kill them all and return the death penalty or you all will not sleep well secure at night. the hell with CBCP

  3. Jerome Suarez on

    The Catholic Church of the Philippines should not exempt drug traffickers on their life imprisonment belief. they must really be executed unless they secretly accept donations from drug traffickers and its minions.