Death penalty

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Saturday, February 1, 2014


SEN. Tito Sotto recently filed Senate Bill 2080 seeking to revive the death penalty in our country. This actually surprises me as Senator Sotto has billed himself as a pro-life advocate but in response to public criticism about his mixed stance on life, Senator Sotto has said that he is “pro-life for the unborn but pro-death to heinous criminals.”

Well, Tito Sotto has simply disproved the stance of pro-life advocates like himself who have insisted that there are no gray areas where life is concerned.

The Senate is split on Sotto’s bill while the President as well as the justice secretary has openly declared opposition to the revival of the death penalty. I have always been a death penalty advocate but I am one with the President and the justice secretary.

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I also do not believe the death penalty should be reimposed at this time in our country.  

The reason I advocate the death penalty is because I firmly believe that it is an effective deterrent to crime. This is where I disagree with the President and the justice secretary who both believe that the elimination of the criminal is not an effective deterrent to crime.

If the death penalty in the past has been ineffective in deterring crime in our country, it is only because it was not carried out swiftly.

It certainly instilled fear during the pre-Martial and Martial Law years but only because the executions were carried out with conviction and without delay. In the years that followed, however, while the death penalty was handed down, executions were few and far between until the law was finally abolished.

But I do not for one second believe that if we lined up all the drug and human traffickers, child molesters and pornographers, rapists, kidnappers, plunderers, smugglers and murderers every week and executed them with chilling regularity and consistency, crime rates would not go down in this country.

Still, why do I think that the death penalty should NOT be reimposed at this time in our country? Because as much as I love the idea of ridding this country of criminal elements by removing them from the face of the Earth permanently, I recognize that our country has a very weak criminal justice system.

Yes, by all means, let us revive the death penalty in our country. But let us first make great strides to strengthen our criminal justice system. Let us institute reforms in law enforcement, criminal investigation as well as judicial proceedings.   

Whether we accept it or not, the rich and powerful do get away with criminal activities in this country and until the day we can ensure that every person accused of a crime gets a competent and fair trial in this country, we cannot reimpose the death penalty.

For as long as partial convictions are not isolated cases in our country, no convict can be handed down a death sentence because unlike lifetime imprisonment, death is irreversible. No remedies can be availed of in case of wrongful convictions.  

While the reimposition of the death penalty is the goal of capital punishment advocates like myself, we recognize that strengthening the criminal justice system is necessary before this can become a reality.

E-mail: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo com,Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 02, 2014.

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