THE Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) has called for “understanding” from the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the need to re-impose the death penalty, arguing that it is the best deterrent to heinous crimes.
In a letter to CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, VACC chairman Dante Jimenez warned that without the death penalty, crime would continue unabated and the country would remain crime-ridden.
“We beg that the CBCP also look after the welfare of our victims by criminals because the death penalty if judiciously, religiously and consistently implemented, could benefit our people in maintaining peace and order in our various communities,” said Jimenez in his March 13 letter explaining the anti-crime group’s position in favor of the return of the death penalty for heinous crimes.
Without specifically naming the CBCP, Jimenez said those against the death penalty offered no new arguments to support their stand.
He said the argument that the death penalty is anti-poor is not valid, considering that 70 percent of the Filipino population is poor. The problem lies on the certainties of investigations, prosecutions and judgment of cases by the courts, he said.
The claim that the death penalty has no deterrent effect is sweeping and misleading, as this was disproved by the execution by musketry of drug lord Lim Seng during the Marcos administration, which saw a decline in drug trafficking, Jimenez said.
He also blamed the Church, among others, for the moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty during the Estrada administration that eventually led to the law’s abolition in 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Legal tactics, sensationalizing issues and pressure by the Catholic Church derailed the Death Penalty Law implementation. In effect, the envisioned deterrent component of the law was never realized because of radical opposition,” Jimenez claimed.
He also dispelled claims by pro-life groups that death penalty is unconstitutional, saying that “Section 19 of the Bill of Rights of our Constitution clearly provides that the death penalty can be imposed for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes which Congress must define.”
Moreover, the argument that death penalty is a violation of the rights of criminals and sanctity of human life is the “ultimate hypocrisy,” he said.
“We could not fathom how those against death penalty could be mentioning about the rights of killers, and the death penalty to be inhuman in the face of the bloodbaths on victims we face every single day – the massacres of entire families, the senseless murder and mutilation of innocent people, the rape of children. Recidivists who are emboldened by the laxity in sanctioning offenders strike again and again,” he added.
A retired archbishop said there was also nothing new in VACC’s position.
“I understand them. They may have the best of intention but the end does not justify the means,” former CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said.
The state does not give life and thus has no right to take one’s life, he argued.
Cruz stressed that the weak legal system would be stacked against poor crime suspects.
“Where are the people who committed high crimes? They are in the hospital,” Cruz said. “Our justice system does not work. It’s dysfunctional. It is only for the rich and powerful.”
Until now, he noted, justice has been elusive to the victims of the infamous Mendiola massacre, the Atimonan killing, the Manila hostage taking, the Maguindanao massacre and the SAF 44 massacre.
“We should be very careful in dealing with lives. We might commit a mistake that will result in the death of an innocent,” Cruz said.