THERE have been debates on the restoration of the death penalty in the country. Opponents not only describe the measure as “inhumane and cruel” but they also believe that this does not deter criminality.

I don’t know. A person might think twice about committing a heinous crime if he is aware that he might lose his life as a result. The thought of hanging, or dying in front of a firing squad or getting a lethal injection should send shivers up a hardened criminal’s spine.

Of course, the criminal has to be caught first. Charged. Convicted, if he has to depend on a public attorney. His appeals turned down, if he doesn’t hire an expensive lawyer or “know” the judge.

So, okay. The death penalty, if restored, will most likely be imposed on the poor. Or the ignorant. Or both.

But opponents of the measure should know that the current setup has not deterred crime. At all.

And why would it? A person who is convicted today might end up making a windfall while serving his sentence.

Don’t tell me no one is making any money from all that shabu coming from the Cebu City Jail or the National Bilibid Prison? That is, if the reports are true.

I have to admit, I have not made up my mind yet on the issue.

However, there are incidents that make people see red.

Take for instance what happened to the four-month-old girl who was raped in Barangay Perrelos, Carcar City last Thursday dawn.

Her bloodied body was discovered in a grassy lot not far from where her family was sleeping.

Police have arrested a suspect, Jonathan Marfe, a 40-year-old native of Catigbian, Bohol.

But as SunStar Cebu’s Kevin A. Lagunda wrote, “no one saw Marfe take the baby, rape her, and abandon her in a coconut farm naked and bloodied.”

So why was he taken into custody?

Carcar City Police Chief Jose Liddawa admitted as much that what they have against Marfe is circumstantial.

After all, they’re hoping to pin the crime on Marfe based on a green shirt and a bloodied carton that they recovered from the suspect’s house.

The night before the girl was discovered, Marfe and three others were having a drinking session. According to his companions, they went home past midnight. All three said Marfe was wearing a green shirt and black jogging pants at the time.

Marfe’s insisted that he was wearing a red shirt and camouflaged shorts. This made police suspicious.

Even though the evidence against him are circumstantial, things don’t bode well for Marfe.

First, he’s a suspected junkie. Second, investigators learned that he had tried to rape a neighbor in Bohol. Third, he had a reported altercation with the girl’s family. Finally, one of his drinking companions claimed seeing him enter the girl’s house.

Although the verdict is far from in, considering that Marfe has yet to be charged, I’m sure the public has made up its mind about his guilt even though he continues to profess his innocence.

At any rate, the abolitionists have found a new disciple.