Del Mar: Death penalty is 'barbaric'

REPRESENTATIVE Raul del Mar (Cebu City, North District) has reaffirmed his commitment against death penalty, even calling the capital punishment "barbaric" and "against the poor".

In a speech he delivered at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the lawmaker said that imposing capital punishment is not the solution to lessen crime rate in the country.

"The death penalty is barbaric, antiquated, and regressive," he said.

Del Mar added that there is no evidence supporting claims that death penalty is more effective than life imprisonment.

"Several studies have found no convincing evidence that death penalty deters crime. When death penalty was applied in the Philippines, there is no evidence that it is more effective than a for-life prison term with no parole," he said.

Del Mar also suggested that death penalty could punish the innocent, as it is irreversible, and it is against the poor.

"Once an innocent person is put to death, is it not an act that can never be reversed? Bad enough if an innocent person is jailed but at least he is still alive when the wrong is corrected," he said.

The lawmaker said that most of those who end up in death rows are the ones who don't have access to good lawyers and doesn't have money to get help.

Instead of reviving death penalty, Del Mar pushes to strengthen the country's justice system, from police method and equipment to arrest and prosecution of criminals.

"What attracts people to commit crime? Is it not the impunity that drives most of them, the confidence they can get away with murder or drug trafficking by hiring lawyers and bribing police, fiscals and judges?

The lawmaker also pointed out that the Philippines is predominantly a Catholic nation that recognizes of the dignity of the human life.

"Law is the will of the state, which in turn is shaped by the beliefs of the people. Catholics also believe in retribution, but not by taking human life."

Del Mar's opposition came after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez pushes for the passage of the death penalty bill.

The bill seeks to impose death penalty on more than 20 heinous crimes, including treason, murder, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and carnapping, among others.

Alvarez is confident of the bill's passage on third and final reading before Congress goes on break in March. (SunStar Philippines)
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