DOJ against restoration of death penalty
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice has reaffirmed its stand against the restoration of the death penalty amid a revived push in Congress to reinstate capital punishment, particularly for convicted foreign drug traffickers.
While it recognized the gravity and destructive effects of drug trafficking, the DOJ said that “bringing a human rights perspective to the national drug control regime is a crucial exercise.”
“Justice that kills is not justice. The imposition of capital punishment has no positive impact on crime prevention or security and does not in any way repair the harm done to the victims and their families,” the DOJ said in a statement.
“The department believes that it [death penalty] cannot and should not exist where the conditions for determining guilt or innocence are so imperfect,” it added.
The DOJ statement reiterated the government’s stand that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima put forth on June 12 during the opening ceremonies for the Fifth World Congress against Death Penalty held in Madrid, Spain.
Conveying President Aquino’s message to an international audience, De Lima said that “every person is equal before the law, and each life holds intrinsic value, which no person, no state, can or should take.”
A bill amending the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 now pending in the House of Representatives seeks to impose the death penalty on foreign nationals convicted of trafficking illegal drugs into the country.
The measure, which aims to deter the transnational drug trade in the Philippines, passed deliberations in the House committee on dangerous drugs in February.
While it “will never underestimate the dangers of drug trafficking and the high price it exacts from our communities,” the DOJ said that more stringent law enforcement, among other things, would be the best weapon against the drug problem.
“There is no quick or instant solution to this problem. The department joins the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dangerous Drugs Board in calling for the adoption of bold antidrug initiatives such as a new system of information exchange, aggressive drug law enforcement activities and socioeconomic programs to remove the social foundation of this scourge,” the DOJ said.
Meanwhile, the local Catholic Church asserted its opposition to the death penalty and current efforts to lobby for its reinstatement.
The Philippines was the first Asian country to abolish the death penalty in 1987, with the ratification of a new Constitution after the end of the martial law regime. The penalty was restored in 1992 amid rising heinous crime rates but was again scrapped in June 2006.
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