Pro-life and human rights campaigners in the House of Representatives are determined to challenge Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s plan to have his bill bringing back the death penalty passed before the Christmas recess.
“The Speaker has thrown down the gauntlet on the death penalty. We will put up a fight,” House senior deputy minority leader and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The death penalty is the absolute and irreparable deprivation of human rights. It flouts the natural and unassailable right to life,” Atienza added.
“Congress cannot repeal the right to life of every human being, of every Filipino,” Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila, said.
He was responding to Alvarez’s plan for the House to approve on third and final reading the return of death sentences for heinous crimes before Congress adjourns for the holidays.
“As far as the House is concerned, we will approve it [the reinstatement of the death penalty]before the Christmas break,” Alvarez told reporters.
The Speaker said the House would leave it up to the Department of Justice to specify the mode of putting convicts to death.
“If they want to hang them, shoot them by firing squad, it’s up to them. The criminals would be dead either way,” he added.
The death penalty did not work before simply because only a handful of executions were actually carried out, Alvarez said.
In reply, Atienza said, “There’s no point in performing another experiment on the death penalty that is bound to fail at the horrible sacrifice of more human lives.”
He added that the country already experimented on the death penalty in the past, and it failed to deter crime.
“The certainty of capture and punishment of criminals, regardless of the severity of the penalty itself, is the best deterrent to other would-be offenders,” Atienza said.
He also denounced the death penalty as “infected with economic prejudice and human error.”
“It is bad enough we already have a virtual death penalty in place, with the unabated summary executions of alleged suspects sans the benefit of a full and fair trial,” Atienza said.
In accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s wish to revive executions, Alvarez’s bill seeks to mete out death sentences to offenders convicted of drug felonies, murder, rape, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, bribery, plunder, parricide, infanticide, destructive arson, piracy and treason.
Atienza prefers that the same offenses be punished with imprisonment for 40 years, or until the convict reaches 70 years old, without the benefit of possible early release.
Congress abolished the death penalty in 2006 as a result of mounting flaws, including the belated discovery of the wrongful execution of Leo Echegaray.