Photo shows House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Bienvenido "Benny" Abante Jr. during the opening of the 18th Congress Monday. Leandicho
'To be pro-life is to be pro-death penalty,' says House minority leader Abante
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - July 24, 2019 - 1:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — House Minority Leader Bienvenido “Benny” Abante is backing the reinstatement of death penalty, claiming it is the “best deterrent” to crimes.

In an interview on CNN Philippines Wednesday, Abante, who is a senior pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church, said he supports the revival of the controversial death penalty but only on heinous crimes like massacre, terrorism, killing with rape and plunder.

“I’ve always battled for the reimposition of death penalty… I wanted death penalty to still be there because that would be the best deterrent to crime although I’m pro-life,” Abante said.

“Pro-life ako, yet sinasabi ko nga eh to be pro-life is to be pro-death penalty, to preserve life,” he said, explaining his stand.

(I am pro-life, yet I’ve been saying that to be pro-life is to be pro-death penalty, to preserve life.)

Abante’s stand on death penalty runs counter to the views of some members of the House minority bloc, which includes lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc, Liberal Party and party-list coalition.

“That would be my personal argument. I don't know about the others. I told minority bloc members, look we agree to disagree on that point,” he said. 

Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) said death penalty is not a deterrent to crimes and the poor would become victims of this proposal.

“In a flawed justice system like ours, death penalty will only kill, kill, kill the poor rather than give justice to the victims of crime,” he said Monday.

A 2009 study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology revealed that 88.2% percent of surveyed experts do not think that death penalty has a deterrent effect. Only 9.2% said they believe death penalty results in a significant drop in murder cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte renewed his call to bring back death penalty for heinous crimes related to drugs and plunder during his fourth State of the Nation Address Monday.

Death penalty was abolished in 2006.

In the 17th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the death penalty bill but only for drug convicts. The proposal, however, faced strong opposition from senators.

The new minority leader also said he is supporting the call to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

“To me, if you say lower it to 12 years old, instead of penalizing them by jail terms, they ought to be reformed, rehabilitated,” Abante said.

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