We are gratified to learn that a group of lawmakers in the Philippines earlier last week pledged to move toward an early repeal of the Death Penalty Law. The initiative of the 28 Congress members led by Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales and Rep. Edcel Lagman is most praiseworthy. Their appeal to President Arroyo to reimpose the moratorium on executions instead of merely issuing reprieves every time a death convict is scheduled for execution by lethal injection is timely and deserves widespread support.
We are in complete agreement with Representative Lagman’s reported statement that, “as long as we have a flawed police and criminal justice system, so long will criminals taunt lethal injection as a mere anesthesia to numb society’s clamor for vengeance.” The death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment. People who are wrongly convicted of crimes they never committed have at least the hope that someday their cases may be reviewed and injustice overturned. Even in cases where the criminal justice system is fully convinced it has caught the right person, the question remains as to what is achieved by meting out the kind of cruel treatment the criminal perpetrated?
Studies have shown that incidence of violent crime does not fall if the death penalty is introduced, nor does it rise if it is abolished. The Philippines has an opportunity to join the comity of enlightened nations of Europe, Latin America and many parts of Africa that have given up the medieval practice of taking a life for a life. It ought to seize this opportunity post haste.
Hong Kong Section
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