Death penalty vs illegal garbage dumping in Abra draws 'deep concern'

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Death penalty vs illegal garbage dumping in Abra draws 'deep concern'
This picture taken on October 29, 2016 shows police officers investigating a crime scene where two alleged drug dealers were gunned down by unidentified men in Manila. Business has never been busier for undertaker Alejandro Ormeneta but, after five months on the frontlines of the Philippines' brutal drug war, he just wants the killings to stop.
AFP / Noel Celis, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed its deep concern over a barangay ordinance in Bangued, Abra, which proposes "death penalty" for a third offense of illegal dumping of garbage.

This comes more than a week after Brgy. Calaba chairperson Renato Brasuela, four barangay councilors and a Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson were suspended for crafting an ordinance seeking to mete out "death" to violators.

"This ordinance not only represents a severe disregard for human rights but also trivializes the most fundamental right of all–the right to life," said the CHR in a statement on Saturday.

"While we recognise the importance of proper waste management and ordinances that will improve residents' waste disposal practices within their communities, such cruel directives and offenses does not address the problem, instead, it only perpetuates confusion, perplexity, and distress among the constituents."

The ordinance, which was imposed in Calaba last February, aims to punish first time violators with a P1,000 fine, second time violators with a P1,000 fine and eight hours of community service and third time offenders with the penalty of "being shot."

Mayor Mila Valera earlier ordered the preventive 90-day suspension of the following after being found guilty of grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, gross neglect of duty, gross dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service by the Sangguniang Bayan:


  • Brgy. Calaba chairperson Renato Brasuela
  • council member Marjun Santiago
  • council member Rosemel Viado
  • council member Marlbour Valera
  • council member Carmelita Venus
  • SK chairperson Darryl Blanes

"These heinous remarks have not only caused social unrest but also posed a direct threat to the right to life," the CHR said.

"The Commission urges everyone, particularly local leaders and people in power, to refrain from making light of such sensitive topics. The right to life is a fundamental human right that must be respected and protected at all times," it added.

The death penalty is currently prohibited under Article III, Section 19 (1) of the 1987 Constitution unless otherwise provided by law by Congress. However, the aforementioned only covers heinous crimes.

It could be remembered that the government earlier abolished the death penalty in 2006 after its reimposition. Due to this, crimes which were earlier punished with the death penalty are now met with reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment).

The CHR likewise reaffirmed its stance against capital punishment, as the Philippines currently has a legal obligation to uphold international treaties such as the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The agreement completely and perpetually bans the imposition of death penalty in a signatory country.

The CHR said that it is crucial to recognize that "extreme measures" not only undermine human dignity but also fails to address the root causes of crime, which they say could only "further social injustice and inequality."

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