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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Barrita: Opposing the death penalty

HOUSE members are debating on House Bill No. 4727, which seeks to re-impose the death penalty in the Philippines.

Death under this bill comes by lethal injection, firing squad or hanging for 21 major offenses such as treason, murder, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention and illegal drug offenses.

American wit Mark Twain was right when he said, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

•••

Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar was among those who stood up against the bill when it was presented for debate in the House on Feb. 8.

“The death penalty is barbaric, antiquated, and regressive,” he said. It is also anti-poor as most of those who end up in death rows are the ones who can’t afford good lawyers, he said.

But what’s worse, he said, was that the death penalty is irreversible. “Once an innocent person is put to death, is it not an act that can never be reversed?”

•••

It seems the proponents of the bill seeking to re-impose the death penalty in the country only have the future in mind, their future, I mean.

They have excluded the crime of plunder from those crimes punishable by death. They said the law on plunder already imposes the death penalty. Not so, unless a new law specifically revives it.

They simply wouldn’t want to see a colleague convicted of plunder. If executed by electrocution, the headlines would read, “Congressman Fries.”

•••

But death penalty opponents have the Senate as an ally. A resolution signed by 14 senators said Senate approval is needed to terminate or abrogate a treaty and international agreement that it concurred in.

The Philippines is a party the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the 2nd Optional Protocol, approved by the Senate and obligates the country not to impose the death penalty.

Sen. Franklin Drilon said these conventions “did not provide for any withdrawal or derogation mechanism, which means the party cannot reinstate the death penalty without violating the law.”
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