Duterte again pitches re-imposition of death penalty on drug-related crimes

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte in his penultimate State of the Nation Address renewed the call to reinstate death penalty to drug-related crimes in the country—a proposal he had been lobbying even as when he was president-elect.

Duterte made the pitch in his fifth SONA where spectators were expecting that the government would bare recovery plan for the country amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

“I reiterate the swift passage of a law reviving the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002,” Duterte said.

Duterte made the same call in his fourth SONA, and on Monday, he again renewed his call, but his pitch drew lackluster response from lawmakers at first. The president then prodded them and said the lawmakers may “not be interested” in this, they then applauded.

Duterte and death penalty

Duterte, in his past speeches, repeatedly stated that he wants death by hanging for criminals.

Before assuming the presidency, Duterte said in a speech in June 2016 that he wants to re-impose the death penalty so he can hang drug offenders. He said drug influence can reduce human to “bestial state” to commit killing or rape.

Last year, the president again urged lawmakers to reinstate death penalty not only for heinous crimes related to drugs but also for plunder.

With many of Duterte’s allies winning seats at both chambers of the Congress, a breakthrough for the passage of the reinstatement of the capital punishment as seen in 2019.

But Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said then that debates on this proposed measure at the upper chamber would be a “hard battle” as many of his colleagues oppose this.

CHR: Death penalty is ineffective

The Commission on Human Rights shortly after the SONA said that while they agree that crimes must be punished, this should not result in “violations of human rights, especially the right to life.”

In the same SONA, Duterte said his administration believes that freedom from illegal drugs, terrorism, corruption and criminality is itself a human right violation." He added: "Rest assured, we will not dodge obligation to fight for human rights."

The commission’s spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia again extended its invitation to the government to have a discussion on ineffectiveness of death penalty in curbing crimes.

“CHR wishes to stress that any moves to reinstate capital punishment in the country conflicts with the tenets of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Philippines ratified in 2007,” De Guia added.

READ: Philippines to be 'international lawbreaker' if death penalty revived — expert | Guevarra says death penalty may ‘somehow deter’ crimes

De Guia, who is also a lawyer, stressed what the country needs is a comprehensive approach in addressing the drug problem, one that is “anchored on restorative justice instead of merely imposing punishments without regard for human lives and human rights.”

Veteran rights lawyer Chel Diokno also questioned Duterte’s statement noting that the application of the law in the country is not fair.

In a tweet, Diokno wrote: “Ang problema, hindi patas ang batas sa atin. Yung maliliit na tao, kulong agad, tapos basta big-time at may kapit, siguradong lusot. Anong ikabubuti ng death penalty sa ganitong sistema.”

(The problem, our laws are not fair. The small people are jailed immediately, but those who are big time and have connections, they can be excused. What can death penalty improve in this system?)

2020 SONA




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