Its official – for the first time in Philippine history, a candidate from the Muslim dominated province of Mindanao has won the presidential throne. Its official – history repeats itself as the son of a former dictator loses an election to a widow clad in yellow.
Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his support for the death penalty, a stand that is unlikely to change at any time soon, what with the drug related events plaguing the country even before his formal inauguration. Duterte has been a reputed advocate of extrajudicial killings even before winning the presidency. He apparently has no sympathy for people who are killed because their crimes caught up with them.
The death penalty is currently suspended. There was an attempt at its restoration, but only for the most heinous crimes as allowed by the current constitution. Unfortunately, congress never got around to a definition of what qualifies as ‘heinous’ crimes. As an alternative, the law imposes life imprisonment – a guarantee that a criminal, who has committed what may qualify as a heinous crime, will never get out of jail – but not a guarantee that he will never roam the streets again and commit an equally perverted act either by escaping or, by some miracle, being granted a presidential pardon.
Philippine criminal law is enshrined in the culture of reformation. The country’s penal system imposes imprisonment with the intention of giving criminals a chance to correct their ways. What the law fails to address is that circumstance wherein a criminal is perverted to an extent that all attempts at reformation has failed. Yes, there are criminals who have been in and out of prison, either for the same or different crimes. Is imprisonment still a solution when it obviously has no effect.?
This article submits that it is time to revisit the death penalty. Yes, it is an extreme penalty to be imposed only after a thorough consideration. A penalty that should be imposed only after all attempts at reformation has failed. True, even criminals are entitled to human rights. But the government has an obligation to give all other humans within their jurisdiction a peaceful and orderly society.
The support for the death penalty as a last resort is inspired by the balancing of rights doctrine – the human rights of a criminal who has no respect for the rights of everyone else, is outweighed by the right of everyone else to peace and order – a peace and order which can only be attained if the society is freed from habitual criminals who adamantly refuse to straighten their path.