INTERNATIONAL human rights group Amnesty International Philippines (AIPH) is urging the public to pressure the Senate to drop the possible re-imposition of the death penalty.
Ritz Lee II, AIPH chairperson said in Cagayan de Oro, they have so far gathered signatures and some 500 letters from residents addressed to Kagay-anon Senate President Koko Pimentel to oppose death penalty.
Instead of re-imposing capital punishment, Amnesty said the government should instead strengthen law enforcement and police visibility, as this would cause fear to the criminals.
"Psychologists would say na kapag ang tao ay gumagawa ng krimen, hindi niya iniisip kung ano ang parusa, ang criminal mind ay nagsasabi na kapag gagawin niya ang krimen, ang focus niya is how to implement it na hindi ako mahuhuli," Lee said.
"In Canada, meron silang death penalty noon, hindi naman nagbago ang crime rate nila, when they lift the death penalty, strengthen justice system, nagkaroon ng decrease sa crime rate," he added.
Death penalty is among the highlights during Wednesday's press conference at the Cagayan de Oro Press Club for AI's Annual Report 2016/17.
Amnesty International also questioned the participation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the recently renewed Project Double Barrel Reloaded, where soldiers will be involved in doing police work as "force provider" for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operations.
Lee said the new strategy "does not make the war on drugs more effective than it was before."
He added that the government was and is still not ready for the monumental task of getting rid of drugs and criminality.
"Iba-iba kasi yung functions ng PNP and AFP, yung police maintains peace and order in the community, while the AFP handles the external forces, yung enemy of the state, so yung style talaga nila is to kill," Lee said, noting that the differences should be well defined.
Unlawful killing, Lee said, is top billed in the Philippine entry to AI's annual report for 2016 to 2017, as it is the single gravest human rights violation and abuse issue that it has researched on in the country since torture during the martial law, high incidence of violence against women, internal displacement caused by war in Mindanao and cases of development aggression against indigenous communities.
In its annual report, the Amnesty International cites seven pressing issues in the country - unlawful killings, torture and ill treatment, excessive use of force, human rights defenders, death penalty, abuses by armed groups and the right to adequate standard of living, education and justice.
The human rights watchdog said it believes that it is crucial to the security system that the different agencies have clear guidelines and instruction on their objectives, which also specify their distinct positions and lines of accountability.
"The government must remember that a militarized police operation tend to be less responsive to community needs thus more civilians are caught in crossfire. Aren't there enough deaths as it is? It is for this reason that even in times of disorder, it is recommended that basic law enforcement responsibilities be kept in the hands of civil law enforcement agencies for as long as possible," he added.