Drilon: Capital punishment under ‘inadequate’ justice system is death warrant for the poor
MANILA, Philippines—The leader of the vastly outnumbered minority at the Philippine Senate on Friday (July 5) vowed to put up a tough fight against a push to revive the death penalty saying restoring capital punishment under what he said was an inadequate justice system was tantamount to signing a death warrant for the country’s poor.
Several senators had already committed to support measures that would give flesh to President Rodrigo Duterte’s conviction that the solution to criminality was for the government to execute criminals.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, in a statement, said the heavily outnumbered opposition bloc “will never allow the 18th Congress to give license to authorities to kill the poor.”
“We strongly and unequivocally oppose the reimposition of death penalty. We are prepared to fight it all the way,” Drilon said.
He acknowledged that “it will be a tough fight” because the numbers game in Congress was heavily tilted in favor of Duterte, noting that a number of his colleagues at the Senate had already endorsed the revival of death penalty.
Drilon said death penalty plus an often corrupt justice system was like giving out death sentences to the poor.
“It has been proven time and again that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent to crimes. Only the poor will be made victim of this measure,” he said.
Aside from Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Leila De Lima are also against the measure.
The Senate minority leader, however, said the small group would bank on the support of majority of Filipinos who had expressed strong opposition to reviving the death penalty in a Social Weather Stations survey in 2018 showing that 7 out of 10 Filipinos were not in favor of the death penalty.
“No justice will be served if it involves taking a life. Let’s be more rational, humane, independent, and conscientious in handling this very sensitive issue,” Drilon said.
The senator pointed to the a constitutional mandate requiring the Philippines to honor its international treaty obligations which included an international pact to shun and abolish captal punishment.
Drilon was referring to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civll and Political Rights which the Philippine Senate ratified and the Executive signed in 2007. It mandated the abolition of death penalty by signatory countries.
The pact, said Drilon, does not provide for a withdrawal mechanism which meant signatories would be violating international law if they imposed the death penalty.
“Unless this issue is resolved, we cannot have a complete debate, because we will be back to the same question: can the Philippines reimpose death penalty without any regard to our treaty obligation?” he said. (Editor: Tony Bergonia)
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