CHR lauds Marcos’ stance on death penalty: If gov’t kills, it loses moral ascendancy to stop killings
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lauded the stand of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on death penalty after the Chief Executive’s remarks appeared to be leaning towards not reinstating capital punishment in the country.
In a statement on Friday, CHR Executive Director Jacqueline de Guia said that Marcos is right to raise moral concerns about death penalty, after he asked in an interview with actress Toni Gonzaga whether the state has the right to kill its own people.
De Guia noted that if a government engages in killing as punishment for convicted criminals of heinous crimes, it would no longer have the moral ascendancy to stop killings.
“The [CHR] welcomes the remarks and insights of the President that reflect his primary considerations concerning calls to revive the death penalty. In a recent Youtube interview, President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. said that there are practical and moral issues surrounding capital punishment,” de Guia said.
“On moral grounds, a government that employs a policy of killing loses the moral ascendancy to stop killings. As we have numerously stressed, committing a crime to deter a crime can only breed more harm and may perpetuate a cycle of violence because the children and family of the executed person are left to suffer the sorrow of loss and stigma from the society,” she added.
Furthermore, the current CHR caretaker said that implementing the death penalty in the country may have a negative effect on the Philippines’ bid to remove Filipino inmates in other countries which are on the death row.
“In our firm stance against the death penalty, the CHR has similarly stressed the aforementioned concerns, notwithstanding our legal obligations to uphold the right to life as mandated by the 1987 Philippine Constitution and our obligation to uphold the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which completely and perpetually banned the imposition of the death penalty in the country,” de Guia said.
“We have also repeatedly said that such policy will lead to the weakening of our moral ground to plead for the lives of our overseas Filipino workers in death row. To ensure our legitimacy in asking for clemency from foreign governments, we must not be conflicted in our stand against the death penalty,” she added.
During the interview aired on the occasion of his 65th birthday last Tuesday, Marcos said that the death penalty is a tough issue to discuss because, aside from the moral questions surrounding it, there are also concerns about whether it would really be effective to deter heinous crimes.
This is not the first time that Marcos has expressed doubts about reinstating the death penalty in the Philippines. Last March 19 — when he was still campaigning for the presidential elections, Marcos said he thinks the death penalty is not effective in curbing crime in the country, particularly heinous ones.
READ: Marcos on death penalty: Does society have the right to kill its own people?
CHR agreed that there is no “credible evidence that can prove that the death penalty can curb crime”.
“It is also a sad reality, as proven by studies, that those facing execution are mostly from the poor, with no access to competent lawyers nor to decent education that empower them about their rights,” de Guia said.
“No less than the Supreme Court has recognized through People v. Mateo that the error rate in imposing the death sentence is 71.77%. This shows that such policy is disproportionately disadvantageous to the poor,” she added.
The question of whether the country needs to reinstate death penalty has been a hot debate over the years, with several anti-crime advocates believing that such a measure would deter people from engaging in criminal activities.
However, pro-life activists have questioned whether this claim is true, stressing that there is the danger of imposing death penalty on innocent people.
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