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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Duterte: Death penalty a deterrent vs heinous crime

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said Friday that more heinous crimes were committed after past administrations abolished the death penalty.

At the business forum of newspaper Manila Times in Davao City, Duterte dismissed critics' claim that capital punishment had never provided "any relief, either as a deterrence or a punishment.”

Duterte, a staunch advocate of the return of the death penalty, cited a figure provided by Bureau of Corrections director Benjamin Delos Santos, showing the increasing number of prisoners who have committed heinous crimes.

"I tell you a very strange thing. They say that this death penalty, it never provided any relief, either as a deterrence or as a punishment," the President said.

"When there was still death penalty, it's about 187 [inmates convicted of heinous crimes]. Now that it has been lifted, [there's] an increase of 3,000 then they will say [death penalty] is not deterrent [solution]," he added.

At the Senate deliberations on bills seeking to restore death penalty, Delos Santos said there were 189 inmates convicted of heinous crimes before the capital punishment had been abolished in 2006.

The figure rose to 6,204 inmates when the death penalty had been revoked, an "astonishing 3,280-percent increase of persons convicted for heinous crimes," said Delos Santos.

Duterte said the revival of death penalty would be a band-aid solution to address heinous crimes in the country.

"They said, death penalty did not yield good results. But I was not the President that time. Reimpose that, now that I am the President, I would make those stupid [inmates convicted for heinous crimes] as curtains," he said.

"For me, you will pay for what you've done. If you cremate the victim, I will cremate you. Fair is fair. If you rape a child, kill the child, I will give you to the elephant in the zoo, have you rape there and cremate you thereafter," Duterte added.

The House of Representatives has already started its deliberations on the restoration of capital punishment. Some lawmakers are split whether or not death penalty should be revived.

The death penalty law has been encountering opposition even from the lawmakers themselves. Senator Richard Gordon warned the serious repercussions on the Philippines global trade and deals and possible violation of international treaties to which the country is signatory.

Senator Gordon, chairman of the committee, suspended further hearings on the proposal until the Department of Justice (DOJ) comes up with a good legal justification that the Philippines would not violate any international treaty if it revives the death penalty.

One treaty cited was the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which committed the country not to impose the death penalty.

House Speaker Bebot Pantaleon Alvarez, who pushes death penalty in the lower house, and has recently issued a statement for the Partido Demokratiko Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN) that members are free to leave the party if they are against death penalty. Alvarez said that PDP-Laban will make a party stand on the restoration of the death penalty.

The House speaker also warned deputy speakers, committee chairs and vice chairs that they will be replaced if they vote against the reimposition of capital punishment.

The revival of the death penalty is one of the things President Duterte promised to do in his administration with the concurrence of Congress. (SunStar Philippines)

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