Duterte questions death penalty bill



President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the move of Congress to exclude plunder and rape from the list of crimes punishable by death penalty.

In an interview in Cagayan de Oro, Duterte said he will seek clarification from Congress why the two crimes were removed from the bill that seeks to revive the capital punishment.

“I really would like to know the rationale of Congress why is it that rape and plunder was taken out,” he told reporters. “It is not consistent (with my drive against corruption)],” he added.

The President said that even though he had no intention of killing plunderers, he would still like to know the rationale behind its exclusion.

“I said I’ll stop corruption, but I didn’t say I will kill the plunderers. What was in my mind is that corruption will stop and it will stop,” he said.

On Monday last week, the House Majority bloc decided to exclude plunder, rape and treason from the list of crimes punishable by death penalty. The bill was passed via voice vote on second reading.

Lawmakers, including Duterte’s allies, have said they decided to take out plunder and rape to make the controversial bill easier to pass. Only drug manufacturing and drug distribution will be covered by capital punishment.

The House is set to take up the measure on third and final reading on Tuesday.

Senators have indicated that debates on the death penalty bill will be more exhaustive in the Senate.

Fight not over

But Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao said the fight against death penalty is not yet over.

Baguilat said that his fellow lawmakers could still change their minds and vote according to their conscience.

The lawmaker said that his colleagues should “not succumb to fear and intimidation” by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who threatened several lawmakers not to vote against the bill.

“Let this be a conscience vote, not one dictated by party lines. But they should state their position clearly so the people may know who passed this sentence on the Filipino people,” Baguilat said.

“I’ve seen high points and low points in the House, but nothing caused me as much shame and sadness as when I saw a good number of my colleagues seemingly celebrating the passage of the death penalty bill,” he added.

“[Passing the] death penalty [bill]speaks about our morality as a nation and will impact mostly the poor,” the minority lawmaker said. “Railroading the discussions deprived our people the chance to truly examine the bill and the state of our country.”

Baguilat urged his colleagues to “take responsibility for whatever action they will take.”

“I also call on the church to take a stronger stand on the issue. I call on those who respect life to let their voices be heard,” he added.

A staunch critic of the death penalty bill, Baguilat expressed fears that with the voting patter of the death penalty bill, other “anti-rights” bills such as the lowering of age of criminal liability to nine years old may also be swiftly passed.

“It is disturbing to say the least that the House leadership has prioritized bills that promote the culture of death and the trampling of human rights,” he lamented. CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND DEMPSEY REYES



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  1. that’s why congress and senate should be abolished . they are a waste of taxpayers money.

    • Or someone could arrest the Pork barrel and Dap fund thieves that Aquino protected.

      That alone would get rid of half of them and serve justice at the same time.

  2. The same questions arise among the Filipinos. Why this Congress and Senate are saving their own skin, in most cases many of them are involved in the political corruptions and other criminal activities. The Congress and Senate stand as bias to pursue this bill. Unfair especially to taxpayers and the poor who are always victimized by this corrupt activities of the politicians. Obviously they always play safe, because this bill that they will approve will be an instrument to kill their criminal activities if they include Plunder, Rape and Treason. I hope President Duterte will push to include this 3 important criminal act that this politicians always committed. Filipinos expect a complete change.

  3. Jose Samilin on

    Pius XII, in a further clarification of the standard argument, holds that when the State, acting by its ministerial power, uses the death penalty, it does not exercise dominion over human life but only recognizes that the criminal, by a kind of moral suicide, has deprived himself of the right to life. In the Pope’s words,
    Even when there is question of the execution of a condemned man, the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. In this case it is reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned person of the enjoyment of life in expiation of his crime when, by his crime, he has already dispossessed himself of his right to life.

    In light of all this it seems safe to conclude that the death penalty is not in itself a violation of the right to life. The real issue for Catholics is to determine the circumstances under which that penalty ought to be applied. It is appropriate, I contend, when it is necessary to achieve the purposes of punishment and when it does not have disproportionate evil effects. I say “necessary” because I am of the opinion that killing should be avoided if the purposes of punishment can be obtained by bloodless means.
    The purposes of criminal punishment are rather unanimously delineated in the Catholic tradition. Punishment is held to have a variety of ends that may conveniently be reduced to the following four: rehabilitation, defense against the criminal, deterrence, and retribution.

    Granted that punishment has these four aims, we may now inquire whether the death penalty is the apt or necessary means to attain them.

    Capital punishment does not reintegrate the criminal into society; rather, it cuts off any possible rehabilitation. The sentence of death, however, can and sometimes does move the condemned person to repentance and conversion. There is a large body of Christian literature on the value of prayers and pastoral ministry for convicts on death row or on the scaffold. In cases where the criminal seems incapable of being reintegrated into human society, the death penalty may be a way of achieving the criminal’s reconciliation with God.

    Capital punishment is obviously an effective way of preventing the wrongdoer from committing future crimes and protecting society from him. Whether execution is necessary is another question. One could no doubt imagine an extreme case in which the very fact that a criminal is alive constituted a threat that he might be released or escape and do further harm. But, as John Paul II remarks in Evangelium Vitae, modern improvements in the penal system have made it extremely rare for execution to be the only effective means of defending society against the criminal.

    Executions, especially where they are painful, humiliating, and public, may create a sense of horror that would prevent others from being tempted to commit similar crimes. But the Fathers of the Church censured spectacles of violence such as those conducted at the Roman Colosseum. Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World explicitly disapproved of mutilation and torture as offensive to human dignity. In our day death is usually administered in private by relatively painless means, such as injections of drugs, and to that extent it may be less effective as a deterrent. Sociological evidence on the deterrent effect of the death penalty as currently practiced is ambiguous, conflicting, and far from probative.

    In principle, guilt calls for punishment. The graver the offense, the more severe the punishment ought to be. In Holy Scripture, as we have seen, death is regarded as the appropriate punishment for serious transgressions. Thomas Aquinas held that sin calls for the deprivation of some good, such as, in serious cases, the good of temporal or even eternal life. By consenting to the punishment of death, the wrongdoer is placed in a position to expiate his evil deeds and escape punishment in the next life. After noting this, St. Thomas adds that even if the malefactor is not repentant, he is benefited by being prevented from committing more sins. Retribution by the State has its limits because the State, unlike God, enjoys neither omniscience nor omnipotence. According to Christian faith, God “will render to every man according to his works” at the final judgment (Romans 2:6; cf. Matthew 16:27). Retribution by the State can only be a symbolic anticipation of God’s perfect justice.

    For the symbolism to be authentic, the society must believe in the existence of a transcendent order of justice, which the State has an obligation to protect. This has been true in the past, but in our day the State is generally viewed simply as an instrument of the will of the governed. In this modern perspective, the death penalty expresses not the divine judgment on objective evil but rather the collective anger of the group. The retributive goal of punishment is misconstrued as a self-assertive act of vengeance.

    The death penalty, we may conclude, has different values in relation to each of the four ends of punishment. It does not rehabilitate the criminal but may be an occasion for bringing about salutary repentance. It is an effective but rarely, if ever, a necessary means of defending society against the criminal. Whether it serves to deter others from similar crimes is a disputed question, difficult to settle. Its retributive value is impaired by lack of clarity about the role of the State. In general, then, capital punishment has some limited value but its necessity is open to doubt.

    There is more to be said. Thoughtful writers have contended that the death penalty, besides being unnecessary and often futile, can also be positively harmful. Four serious objections are commonly mentioned in the literature.

    There is, first of all, a possibility that the convict may be innocent. John Stuart Mill, in his well-known defense of capital punishment, considers this to be the most serious objection. In responding, he cautions that the death penalty should not be imposed except in cases where the accused is tried by a trustworthy court and found guilty beyond all shadow of doubt.

    It is common knowledge that even when trials are conducted, biased or kangaroo courts can often render unjust convictions. Even in the United States, where serious efforts are made to achieve just verdicts, errors occur, although many of them are corrected by appellate courts. Poorly educated and penniless defendants often lack the means to procure competent legal counsel; witnesses can be suborned or can make honest mistakes about the facts of the case or the identities of persons; evidence can be fabricated or suppressed; and juries can be prejudiced or incompetent. Some “death row” convicts have been exonerated by newly available DNA evidence. Columbia Law School has recently published a powerful report on the percentage of reversible errors in capital sentences from 1973 to 1995. Since it is altogether likely that some innocent persons have been executed, this first objection is a serious one.

    Another objection observes that the death penalty often has the effect of whetting an inordinate appetite for revenge rather than satisfying an authentic zeal for justice. By giving in to a perverse spirit of vindictiveness or a morbid attraction to the gruesome, the courts contribute to the degradation of the culture, replicating the worst features of the Roman Empire in its period of decline.
    Furthermore, critics say, capital punishment cheapens the value of life. By giving the impression that human beings sometimes have the right to kill, it fosters a casual attitude toward evils such as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia. This was a major point in Cardinal Bernardin’s speeches and articles on what he called a “consistent ethic of life.” Although this argument may have some validity, its force should not be exaggerated. Many people who are strongly pro-life on issues such as abortion support the death penalty, insisting that there is no inconsistency, since the innocent and the guilty do not have the same rights.

    Finally, some hold that the death penalty is incompatible with the teaching of Jesus on forgiveness. This argument is complex at best, since the quoted sayings of Jesus have reference to forgiveness on the part of individual persons who have suffered injury. It is indeed praiseworthy for victims of crime to forgive their debtors, but such personal pardon does not absolve offenders from their obligations in justice. John Paul II points out that “reparation for evil and scandal, compensation for injury, and satisfaction for insult are conditions for forgiveness.”
    The relationship of the State to the criminal is not the same as that of a victim to an assailant. Governors and judges are responsible for maintaining a just public order. Their primary obligation is toward justice, but under certain conditions they may exercise clemency. In a careful discussion of this matter Pius XII concluded that the State ought not to issue pardons except when it is morally certain that the ends of punishment have been achieved. Under these conditions, requirements of public policy may warrant a partial or full remission of punishment. If clemency were granted to all convicts, the nation’s prisons would be instantly emptied, but society would not be well served.

    In practice, then, a delicate balance between justice and mercy must be maintained. The State’s primary responsibility is for justice, although it may at times temper justice with mercy. The Church rather represents the mercy of God. Showing forth the divine forgiveness that comes from Jesus Christ, the Church is deliberately indulgent toward offenders, but it too must on occasion impose penalties. The Code of Canon Law contains an entire book devoted to crime and punishment. It would be clearly inappropriate for the Church, as a spiritual society, to execute criminals, but the State is a different type of society. It cannot be expected to act as a Church. In a predominantly Christian society, however, the State should be encouraged to lean toward mercy provided that it does not thereby violate the demands of justice.
    It is sometimes asked whether a judge or executioner can impose or carry out the death penalty with love. It seems to me quite obvious that such officeholders can carry out their duty without hatred for the criminal, but rather with love, respect, and compassion. In enforcing the law, they may take comfort in believing that death is not the final evil; they may pray and hope that the convict will attain eternal life with God.

    The four objections are therefore of different weight. The first of them, dealing with miscarriages of justice, is relatively strong; the second and third, dealing with vindictiveness and with the consistent ethic of life, have some probable force. The fourth objection, dealing with forgiveness, is relatively weak. But taken together, the four may suffice to tip the scale against the use of the death penalty. (Credit is given to Avery Cardinal Dulles from where this research was excerpted)

  4. I agree with the president about including rape. What if someone raped a one-year-old toddler? That heinous animal of a person should be put to death—off the planet. These people who are supposedly making laws for the common good are not doing so. They should put themselves in the place of a mother or a father whose child was raped. How would they feel? Some people just don’t deserve to live among us law-abiding and peace-loving people. Why are many Filipinos so unruly? Part of the problem is we have weak laws and weak administrators of laws, and a ningas-kugon culture.
    About Sen. De Lima. If she’s guilty of receiving drug money, she might as well have killed others, for that money came from drug deals that caused people to get more hooked on drugs that ruined their lives. If not life in prison, at least a decade or so.
    We’re living in an age of increasing evil, and many lawmakers can’t seem to grasp the situation. Many criminals have no humanity at all, thinking like animals and probably under Satan’s and his demons’ sway. I only see worse things to come, people not knowing what’s best to build a lasting society and easily deceived. Yes, we have too educate people, as early as possible, but we also have to punish the evildoers. Besides drugs, prostitution, and pornography, I would eliminate all forms of gambling were I the leader of a country, as they all contribute to our downfall.

    • How do you explain the government allowing all the congressional pork barrel thieves to steal billions and not get arrested ?

      20 senators on the Napoles list
      100 house reps on the Napoles list

      Only 3 opposition senators arrested

      What about the other 117 thieves ?

  5. Took out plunder because they are the plunderers of the country.

    Representatives representing themselves

    Nothing new there.