JULY 5, 2019 – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) maintained its position on Friday against the death penalty bill mostly being pushed by allies of the Duterte administration in the 18th Congress.
In an interview with Boljak sa Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia cited the risk of sending an innocent person to the death row and that the country’s judicial system is “not mature” enough.
“Dehado ‘yung mga mahihirap kasi they are the ones who cannot afford the services of a good counsel. The rich ones go scot-free while the poor are [to] suffer,” she said.
Moreover, the Philippines is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR on the abolishment of the death penalty, de Guia noted.
Former President Gloria Arroyo abolished the death penalty during her administration. The House of Representatives, under her leadership, also withdrew its approval of death penalty for drug possession.
“There is no strong indication, even research, that show death penalty is a deterrent to crime,” de Guia argued.
She also emphasized that life imprisonment is a punishment in itself.
“The mere fact na nakulong na siya, ibig sabihin, hindi na siya dapat bumalik doon sa lipunan para maghasik muli ng lagim. At the same time, deprived siya of many rights habang siya ay nakukulong. That is enough punishment para roon sa crime committed,” she explained.
Four senators bat for the reimposition of death penalty for “heinous crimes” and drug traffickers, with some pushing the inclusion of plunder.
Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a former PNP chief, asserted the measure is not anti-poor as it will only punish big-time drug traffickers.
But for De Guia, life must be valued and that the punishment is within the bounds of law.
She also described as “gruesome and violent” the suggestion of Dela Rosa to execute convicted criminals via firing squad as means to impose the death penalty. Prior to its abolition, capital punishment in the country was done through lethal injection.
“It is interesting kasi kapag may kapwa tayo Pilipino na nahuli abroad, kapag siya ay nasa death row na, tayo ay nakikiusap kasi nga ang point natin napakaimportante ang buhay ng kapwa Pilipino natin,” the spokesperson said.
“In the same way na sa sarili nating bakuran ayaw nating pumatay ng kapwa Pilipino natin. Sana malagay natin sa perspektibo ang usaping ito,” she appealed.