THE death penalty will be restored, despite the strongly valid reasons against it and the heated opposition of the Catholic Church.
Under the Constitution, it’s all up to Congress, where a “super-coalition” led by President Duterte rules. And Duterte through his PDP Laban leaders are cracking the party whip to pass the bill before summer break.
Less church clout
How about the predominantly Catholic populace? The church doesn’t wield enough clout in electing presidents (it failed to stop Duterte’s 2016 blitzkrieg) or in blocking anti-church legislation (it couldn’t shoot down the 2012 reproductive health bill).
The nation already had its taste of the death penalty. The law hasn’t impressed people as deterrent against crime but neither has its enforcement whipped up public outrage against it.
EJK or JK?
Many people believe the state must fight crime with violence. Citizens are desperate for solution to the drug menace, which Duterte’s propaganda machine has shrewdly tapped.
Opposition to the death penalty is only slightly more feeble than the outcry against extrajudicial killings. As part of the war arsenal against illegal drugs, capital punishment has become less repulsive. The street argument: “You don’t like EJK? Then let’s have JK.”
People can live with the death penalty, the sixth commandment “Thou shall not kill” notwithstanding (as long as they don’t do the killing). They’ll shun logic: that it really doesn’t stop people from committing crimes, mostly the poor are the ones gassed or hanged, and most countries have long banished the “barbaric” penalty from their statutes.
Lawmakers may focus instead on (1) what heinous crimes shall be included, (2) how legal aid to impoverished accused can be made adequate, and (3) improving judicial trial and review to avoid erroneous executions.
Lawmakers may start by rethinking its decision to scrap the crime of plunder from the death list. There’s as much vileness in stealing millions of pesos in public money as snuffing out innocent lives.