THE proposal to reinstate death penalty for high-level drug manufacturing and trafficking will not help solve the illegal drug problem, an analyst said Sunday.
Prof. Bobby Tuazon, Director for Policy Studies of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), said there is no scientific evidence that proves capital punishment can deter crimes, including drugs-related cases.
Only 10 countries impose the death penalty on heinous crimes such as murder, and there has been no reduction in drug-related crimes, he said.
Tuazon cited Indonesia, which executes convicted drug offenders. Despite the imposition of capital punishment, the number of drug users increased to 5.9 million in 2015 from 3.6 million in 2011.
Iranian authorities have admitted the failure of capital punishment in reducing drug trafficking in their country, Tuazon noted.
Moreover, in the US, states with no death penalty have lower murder rates compared with those that impose the death penalty.
“The reinstatement of death penalty on drugs-related crimes will not reduce drug trafficking in the Philippines. More horrible than the drugs trade is the country’s flawed criminal justice system,” Tuazon pointed out.
The House of Representatives approved on second reading last week House Bill (HB) 4727 or the death penalty bill. The priority measure is expected to pass on third and final reading this week.
Under the HB 4727, death penalty will only cover individuals convicted of high-level manufacturing and trafficking of illegal drugs.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd expects a close fight between senators for or against returning capital punishment.
A number of senators however remain open to supporting the bill and may be swayed by limiting its scope to the most heinous crimes, such as high-level syndicated drug trafficking, he said.
The first public hearing of the Senate justice committee on the death penalty bill was indefinitely suspended amid worries the country might violate the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights signed by the government in 1986.
But Pimentel said the Philippine government could justify the re-imposition of the death penalty on the premise that the country would never surrender its sovereignty.
Tuazon said Filipinos should be bothered more by the criminal justice system that is made dysfunctional by corruption, lack of professionalism and competence, as well as a culture of impunity that afflicts – in varying degrees – such institutions as the police, prosecutors, the courts, anti-graft agencies and corrections facilities.
“In this context, we cannot expect a fair and judicious administration of justice as far as drug-related crimes are concerned,” he added.
The US Department of State’s latest report on human rights violations across the world mentioned the Philippines’ “weak and overburdened criminal justice system notable for slow court procedures, weak prosecutions, and poor cooperation between police and investigators.”
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto agreed with the US observation and said law enforcement is plagued by logistical shortfalls and manpower shortages.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is almost 50,000 men short of what is ideally required, and lacks 18,000 long firearms and 3,000 patrol vehicles.
The situation of the Public Attorneys’ Office is worse, because each public defender attends to 5,000 clients per year.
“Our prosecutors are saddled by the same problems. Some 1,700 vacancies remain unfilled, burdening each of the 2,000 in service with a punishing average load of 500 cases,” Recto said.
As for the judiciary, of the 367 municipal trial courts, only 289 have judges. A quarter of the 1,229 regional trial courts either have no judge or have yet to be organized.
The country’s prison system is also facing the problem of overpopulation with an average congestion rate of 215 percent.