IFUGAO Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat has urged the public to add their voice to the growing chorus calling for a stop to hasty moves in Congress to reimpose the death penalty.
The Commission on Human Rights as well as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines have already taken a firm stance against the death penalty with the CBCP saying that the abolition of the death penalty by the 1986 Constitution was “a very big step towards a practical recognition of the dignity of every human being created to the image and likeness of God, and the value of human life from its conception to its natural end.”
Baguilat added reimposing the death penalty would mean a backward step without moral necessity.
“Indeed the Constitution says that there must be a compelling reason to reimpose the death penalty and there is none today,” said Baguilat, a member of the legitimate opposition bloc in Congress known as the “Magnificent 7”.
The Ifugao solon reiterated his stand as the House majority led by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez remained resolute in its stance to immediately pass a law that will bring back the death penalty, ostensibly as part of the campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.
Baguilat had said the plan to railroad the passage of the death penalty was a grave cause for concern considering that it had already been established that having a death penalty would not deter the proliferation of crime.
“It is not a deterrent. There is no reliable and credible data to show that it is,” said Baguilat. “That is why I am again appealing to my colleagues in Congress to not rush into passing such a bill and instead allow extensive and intelligent discussion.”
The Cordilleran lawmaker also said the better move is to strengthen the justice system to make sure that justice is served quickly and that the real criminals will go to jail.
“As it is, everybody is saying that the justice system is flawed. That means what we need is more reform to avoid wrongful convictions. Without reforms, what will happen is that the poor will again bear the consequence of the weakness and inconsistency in the application of the criminal justice system. We need to strengthen that first to make a more lasting impact on criminality. I have never believed in legislating this ultimate retribution,” Baguilat said.
Capital punishment was last suspended in 2006 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. At that time, Congress was overwhelmingly supportive of the tenet that life has value. President Duterte, however, has consistently said that he wanted it back as part of the package of measures to supposedly stop the proliferation of drugs and criminality.
“I have always said that I am supportive of the President’s campaign against drugs and criminality. But there is the right way to do it and reimposing the death penalty, which will violate our international commitments, is not the right way,” said Baguilat. (Melody Balanza/Office of Cong. Baguilat