On Death Penalty and the Sanctity of Life

Zubiri, Lacson Want to Restore Death Penalty
By Hannah L. Torregoza

Two senators yesterday called for the restoration of the death penalty, saying such a move would help deter hardened criminals and recidivists from committing heinous crimes.

Sens. Juan Miguel Zubiri and Panfilo Lacson said the death penalty as capital punishment should be restored in order to put a stop to brutal and violent killings such as the bloody RCBC bank robbery in Cabuyao, Laguna where 10 people died.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Prospero Nograles has proposed the start of a lively debate on whether to restore the death penalty or not.

"The specter of certain death will deter even many hardened criminals. It will be a fear greater than just being caught and locked for life in jail. Many terrorists have managed to escape. Or they could feign reformation of character such as parolees who went back to their old criminal ways. Had they been meted out the death penalty, the activities of recidivists would have stopped with finality," Zubiri said.

Congress, he noted, should re-impose the death penalty for crimes relating to drug trafficking and multiple homicide. Zubiri said he earlier voted against the abolition of the death penalty when Congress voted to repeal Republic Act 9346 during the 13th Congress.

"Criminals have been known to trade illegal drugs inside the jails and run their illegal drug-trafficking networks from the prison which ironically serves as their safe haven from rival drug syndicates. While alive, incorrigible drug lords in jails only need a cell phone to perpetrate their crime," he said.

He added that the death penalty would also help law enforcement agencies cope with rising criminality.

For his part, Lacson said Congress should start reviving talks on the restoration of death penalty.

"Mukhang noon ang sentiment at the time, iabolish yan, masyadong malakas. Pero ngayon, marami nang nangyayari kaya siguro ngayon, magiging deterrent iyan sa future heinous crimes kaya dapat pag-usapan ito uli," Lacson said in an ambush interview. [...]

Nograles seeks House debate on death penalty
By Ben R. Rosario

Two massacres that resulted in the death of at least 18 persons in Laguna prompted yesterday Speaker Prospero Nograles to ask members of the House of Representatives to consider anew the restoration of the death penalty.

At the same time, Nueva Ecija Rep. Edno Joson appealed to the House Committee on Public Order and Security to reconsider its decision rejecting the bills providing for the reinstatement of the death sentence on extrajudicial killings and the imposition of a total gun ban in the country.

Joson’s appeal was supported by neophyte congressmen led by Rep. Reno Lim (NPC, Albay).

"It looks like the removal (of the death sentence) did not deter the commission of heinous crimes. Maybe we should revisit and debate its restoration again in Congress," Nograles said.

However, the Davao City solon recommended that the imposition of the death penalty be an "exception to the rule and let the judiciary use its discretion" to impose it in cases when judges find it necessary due to the seriousness of the offense committed. [...]

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Death Penalty – NO!
By Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz

To say it clearly and put it briefly: As no government is the author of human life, no human life may be taken by any government. Furthermore, just as no human law can bring about human life, this may neither be taken away by any law of man. Finally, death penalty is the summit of injustice when a justice system is dysfunctional. And this is the reality when certain dynasties, certain families and many individuals live and act above the law of the land, when the demands of justice are neutralized by the tenure of power, the possession of wealth.

Practically whenever heinous crimes get the attention of tri-media and hit the sensibility of public conscience, there is some kind of a clamor for the re-imposition of death penalty in the country. And this reaction is in some way still good and proper—even if only for the following reasons: It shows that a good majority of the people still value human life over and above everything else. It also proves that most of them are angered in a special way by those who treacherously take human lives away. It also confirms that irrespective of their status in life, Filipinos by and large still craves for justice in principle.

It has to be pointed out however that in this country, the Justice System has become progressively dysfunctional. Translation: The high and the mighty are above the law. The poor and the helpless are the victims of law. Justice has become selective in its relevance and application. Injustice is the lot precisely of those who have less in life and resources. That is why as a matter of course, those perpetrate and perpetuate huge crude graft and uncouth corrupt practices in the national level, those who engage in smuggling in staggering proportion, those who make enormous money from the calamity of others such as that caused by natural disaster—all these are untouchable by law and its enforcers as they specifically remain beyond the reach of justice.

These are deviate characters who customarily and callously suck in enormous public funds precisely intended for the common good and the public welfare of the people. These are the sick and sickening personalities who eventually cause the poverty and misery, the hunger and sickness of millions of Filipinos, who thus contribute to their hopelessness and eventual death. In other words, they are the eminent examples of those who in truth strangle people “in style”, who in reality kill people “softly”. In the last analysis, these cold-hearted and ruthless individuals are themselves eventually guilty of heinous crime, of hideous massacre—and in very large scale. [...]

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On the Proposal to Restore the Death Penalty
By Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

As a former RTC judge of Quezon City , I oppose the move to restore the death penalty. When I was RTC judge and handling cases punishable by death, during the course of the trial I noticed that when the accused was threatened with the death penalty, there was no obvious terror or deterrent effect on the face of the accused. Apparently, criminals who go to the extent of murdering people are not deterred by the death penalty. This is not to underestimate the heinousness of the crime, but there are remedies.

The abolition of the death penalty was a matter of criminal law philosophy that it is better to rehabilitate the accused than to kill him outright. Number two, we will be going against the global mainstream if we restore the death penalty because it has been condemned, meaning to say that it has been vigorously sought to be abolished not only by the churches, but also by the United Nations and the European Union. So that would be a step backward.

Normally, the arguments in favor of the death penalty are that the penalty should be commensurate to the crime. However, the problem there is not whether by taking their lives we would restore the lives of those they took. The answer of course is no, those lives have been lost. If we punish with the approach of an eye for an eye, a death for a death, then we are starting a vicious cycle.

Plus, in this case, we would be violating the right to life, which already has been constitutionalized in our country. You will say “What about the right to life of their victims?” You will be correct. However, the question here is what is the best penalty for society as a whole. It may be that the families themselves may not even wish for the death penalty, they’ll simply wish for appropriate punishment. Sometimes, considering the miserable conditions of our jails, life imprisonment can be more proportionate as punishment than death itself. [...]

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