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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Wenceslao: Death penalty bill

A COUPLE of days ago, I passed by the Sto. Rosario Church going to the office and noticed two tables placed on both sides of the main entrance. “Kadtong supak sa death penalty, pirma mo,” a middle-aged woman told me, pointing to the table. I smiled at her. “Ok, ngano gud nga dili,” I said and proceeded to add my signature to the nationwide campaign launched by the Catholic Church.

I am against the re-imposition of the death penalty because I don’t think it is a deterrent to the commission of crime. Consider that even if the number of those killed in the drive against the illegal drugs trade has breached the 7,000 mark, pushers continue to ply their trade and drug addicts continue to patronize the product. The only deterrence is a strong criminal justice system.

Besides, the death penalty is anti-poor because our justice system is like a spider web. As a friend would say, “kun langaw, pilit pero kun kabaw lusot.” Just look at the people who are in our prisons. Rarely do the rich get there because they can put up good defense, unlike the poor. Finally, I am for reformation and reintegration (borrowed from a Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto tweet).

That’s why I find it unfortunate that the leadership of the House of Representatives would railroad the passage on third reading of House Bill 4727. The strong-arm tactic used by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was much too apparent. But he was able to do that because many lawmakers have gone docile. They do not want to lose the power and influence that they are currently wielding courtesy of the Duterte administration—save for a few, like former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Of course, some members of the House are really convinced of the need to reimpose the death penalty. Since we are a democracy, I respect their stand. But the others are just opportunists.

Which brings me to Cebu City Reps. Raul del Mar and Rodrigo Abellanosa. Del Mar is one of the 54 who voted against the re-imposition of the death penalty (surprisingly, Rep. Imelda Romualdez Marcos is anti-death, too). Abellanosa was by his lonesome in abstaining. That means House Bill 4727 did not get the nod from the city’s congressmen.

Some people criticize Abellanosa for what they consider his weak stand. He should have just voted no. But that position is still good enough for me.

The ball is now with the Senate where a good number of the members are anti-death. It would be interesting to find out how the pro-death senators, which have Sen. Emmanuel “|Manny” Pacquiao as their spokesperson, would strong-arm the others. We already know what they did recently, hold a meeting in Pacquiao’s residence to plan the ouster of Liberal Party (LP) senators from their committee chairpersonships (is there such a word?).

How will the anti-death senators react if they are threatened of being marginalized if they do not change their stand? That would be a test of their character. Again, there is no problem there with senators who are convinced of the need to reimpose the death penalty and with the LP senators who are opposed to it. The problem are with the senators who are with the “supermajority” even if their principles run counter to those being pushed by the Duterte administration. Will there be a turnaround?
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