CHR: No ‘compelling reason’ to revive death penalty
MANILA, Philippines — There is no compelling reason to reinstate capital punishment in the country, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Wednesday.
During a House panel hearing on bills pushing for the death penalty, CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit pointed out that under the Constitution, the death penalty shall not be imposed “unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes” – not even due to drugs because “drugs are not found on the list” of so-called most serious crimes in international law, according to the CHR official.
“The Constitution says for compelling reasons, and it is our position that there is no compelling reason to reintroduce the death penalty,” she said.
“In the most serious of crimes in international law, if you will have a listing of that, drugs are not found on the list. So we believe there is no compelling reason to impose the death penalty,” Gomez-Dumpit added.
She further pointed out that the Philippines would violate international law if it reimposes the death penalty as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR, to which the Philippines is a signatory, bar the reintroduction of the capital punishment.
“If we go ahead and reimpose the death penalty, we will be found to be in serious breach of international law,” she said.
“It is a state obligation to be able to comply with the human rights treaties that we have acceded to or we have ratified,” she added.
Overseas Filipino workers currently on death row in other countries will also be indirectly affected by the reimposition of the death penalty, Gomez-Dumpit claimed.
She reasoned that it would be “hypocritical” of the Philippine government to impose the death penalty while it seeks to save the lives of OFWs on death row abroad.
“If the death penalty is reinstated, the ability of the Department of Foreign Affairs to negotiate on behalf of our OFWs will be undermined,” Gomez-Dumpit said.
“Moreover, our country will be considered as hypocritical if we will impose the death penalty and at the same time, seek the lives of our OFWs who are in death row abroad,” she added.
In response to Gomez-Dumpit, House justice panel chairman Vicente Veloso III said it is Congress who will eventually decide if there is a compelling reason to reimpose the death penalty.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his fifth State of the Nation Address, urged Congress to pass the reinstatement of capital punishment for drug-related crimes.
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