SENATORS from the majority and minority blocs strongly opposed the proposal to reinstate the death penalty, noting that there has been no empirical evidence to show that capital punishment is an effective deterrent to the commission of crime.
There are at least five bills seeking to reimpose death penalty that the Senate committee on justice and human rights chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon is set to tackle this week.
Sen. Leila de Lima introduced an alternative bill that seeks to increase the period of reclusion perpetua or life sentence to 50 years with no possibility of parole.
Reclusion perpetua under the revised penal code have a jail term of 20 years and one day to 40 years.
Under De Lima’s measure, reclusion perpetua will be imposed on those convicted of extraordinary heinous crimes such as trafficking, terrorism, kidnapping, car theft, rape, murder and plunder, among others.
The bill will also empower, improve and modernize the criminal justice system to make it more effective and responsive.
Gordon maintained that imposing the capital punishment does not deter criminals from committing crimes. He added that poor, who cannot afford to hire good lawyers, are usually those who received capital punishment.
“Justly or unjustly, it is the poor people that will suffer the death penalty since they are the ones usually accused of crimes and they could hardly afford the services of lawyers,” he said.
Gordon said that instead of bringing back the death penalty, the government should amend the penal system to ensure that convicts will be locked up in prisons that are located far from their families.
Senator Francis Escudero shared the same view and vowed to convince his colleagues to vote against the reinstatement of capital punishment.
Escudero said the death penalty is not for a country like the Philippines where the criminal justice system is “rife with discrimination, corruption and abuse.”
He said the harsh reality is that an offender will not end up on death row if he can afford top caliber lawyers.
“I am against the Death Penalty Bill. I will interpellate, I will vote against it and as best as I can, try to convince my colleagues not to support it,” Escudero said.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao filed three separate bills calling for the reimposition of death penalty and insisted that God gave the government authority to impose capital punishment on those who committed crimes.
Pacquiao, who is also a pastor, cited the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to prove that the penalty of death is in the Bible.