Baby Echegaray warns of rising criminality sans death penalty

- Ghio Ong, Helen Flores -
Baby Echegaray, the moral icon that drove the nation to carry out the country’s first execution by lethal injection in 1999, warned the country will experience a spate of criminality and restlessness against the government following the repeal of the Death Penalty Law.

According to Echegaray, hardened criminals will now feel free to take the life of anyone who suits their fancy, knowing that they would be spared from certain death no matter how revolting the offense that was committed.

"Natatakot kami ngayon... nagpipiyesta ang mga nasa death row iniisip nila kahit anong gawin nila, life sentence lang (We are afraid... those on death row are now rejoicing since they have been spared of capital punishment)," she said.

The rape victim — now 22 years old — said the number of crimes committed is comparatively higher now than before the death penalty was imposed and carried out on her stepfather, Leo Echegaray.

Echegaray said she considered herself lucky in getting the justice she wanted after being repeatedly raped by her stepfather.

She expressed concern that the number of crimes would increase since the death penalty law, the principal deterrent to heinous crimes, has been repealed.

Echegaray took exception to claims that victims of heinous crimes are "bloodthirsty," saying their quest for justice should be taken into consideration over the brutality of the offense committed upon them.

"Kami na ang nabiktima kami pa ang sinasabihan na pro-death, uhaw daw kami sa dugo, hindi po totoo yan kaya kami ganun ayaw namin ng may pumapatay (We are the victims and yet we are being branded bloodthirsty. We deny that because we are not the ones on the killing spree)," she said.

Echegaray said she felt sorry for other victims of heinous crime who cannot obtain the justice they want with the abolition of the death penalty.

She recalled that, at the time, a lot of lawmakers joined other sectors in taking to the streets in support of her quest to obtain justice.

She said many lawmakers and other sectors expressed their opinion that the death penalty should be restored in the wake of a spate of heinous crimes occurring almost daily in the early 1990s.

After Republic Act 8177 was enacted in 1994, restoring the death penalty by lethal injection, the elder Echegaray was the first to be executed with this method.

The death penalty law was revived after the nation grew incensed over a spree of heinous crimes that grabbed headlines and filled prime news broadcasts almost every day.

But after President Arroyo came to power in 2001, death convicts were granted a series of reprieves. No prisoners have been executed since her term of office began.

Mrs. Arroyo expressed her conviction to Congress that the Death Penalty Law no longer served its purpose in deterring criminality, and should be repealed.

She got her wish, with Congress enacting Republic Act 9346 abolishing the death penalty as capital punishment, which she signed into law last Saturday. The President presented a copy of the statute as a "gift of life" to Pope Benedict XVI during her visit to the Vatican,

"Napakababaw ng dahilan nya na yun ang regalo niya sa Santo Papa dahil gusto lang niya na masabi na tinanggal niya ang death penalty sa Pilipinas (It was frivolous act for the President to present the repeal of the death penalty as a gift to the Pope)," Echegaray remarked.











  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with