Most Pinoys buck death penalty – study
Seven out of 10 Filipinos, when provided with alternative punishments other than the death penalty, would not support capital punishment, a new study by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) showed.
The study, “Analyzing Factors Affecting Filipino Opinion about Death Penalty,” was commissioned as early as 2018 and is perhaps the first of its kind in the Philippines on the topic of capital punishment, said CHR commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit.
Conducted in partnership with the Australian National University, the research used a nationwide “deliberative polling” of 2,000 respondents through a series of questions that probed their thought processes and perceptions behind death penalty, instead of simply asking them whether they were in favor of the punishment.
“This method also shows us that if people are given options, their responses will be more diverse, and can convey what they truly believe in,” Dumpit said.
The CHR has been vocal against the Duterte administration’s attempts to resurrect the death penalty, which was abolished during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term in 2006. The commission is instead urging the government to uphold its commitments under international law and to push for restorative justice policies.
Survey belie hard truths
But lawmakers seeking to reinstate the death penalty often cite high public support based on national surveys, said Iremae Labucay, researcher and senior survey specialist for the Social Weather Stations.
But often these surveys belie some hard truths: that Filipinos’ basis for such opinions were often based on flawed research on capital punishment.
“Public opinion swings toward favoring the death penalty but as one goes beyond the tip of the iceberg, layers and masses of conditions and intentions abound, depicting a commonality of yearning for an efficient, impartial justice and due process for all,” the researchers said.
Indeed, their findings revealed a more layered portrait of Filipinos’ perceptions on restorative justice and death penalty.
For one, there was indeed moderate support (60 percent) for the death penalty, and most agree this should only apply for people found by the courts to have committed heinous crimes.
Six in 10 Filipinos, meanwhile, believed that capital punishment “somehow provides some sense of justice of the victims.”
However, when presented with alternative punishments, such as reparative payments or prolonged sentences, around seven in 10 favored such methods in restorative justice over capital punishment.
Likewise, a majority of Filipinos also prefer prison terms for those convicted of serious drug crimes—a surprising finding considering President Duterte’s take-no-prisoners approach under his brutal war on drugs, supposedly propelled by public demand.
Overall, however, only three out of 10 Filipinos have expressed the strongest support for the death penalty.
This could mean public support for capital punishment may actually just reflect the “policy inclinations of the government, only because the government framed the death penalty as the only solution without providing options for alternative punishments,” the research concluded.
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