The death penalty dies a natural death

The long time attempts to revive the death penalty in the country was given a glimmer of hope in the lower house as the House of Representatives managed to get a bare majority through on the second reading of the bill. However, the said bill died a natural death in the upper house as the Senate failed to unite with a single voice for its revival.

There is no need to reiterate the long debated issues on the morality (or the lack of it) of the death penalty, human rights, the right to life, and the list goes on of the repeated arguments to trample the most brutal form of capital punishment. Nor is there a need to dwell on the emotionally charged arguments raised by human rights victims and their advocates, the main theme pointing to the ease of fighting for the rights of criminals until you, or someone close to you, become one of their victims.

What is seriously wrong with the Philippine version of the death penalty is its focus on drug related crimes, at the neglect of all other heinous crimes plaguing the nation. The drafted bill that made it past the lower house was clearly an attempt to validate the controversial extrajudicial killings which have made the current administration notoriously popular with the international community.

Laws should be based on reason and they should be made to address long term problems of the whole nation – and not just to satisfy the whims of a current administration. Laws should not single out a certain category of crimes when there are other crimes equally deserving of the same penalty.

The death penalty is not wrong per se – there is just something wrong with the Philippine version.

 
REFERENCES:

http://www.philstar.com/news-feature/2017/05/12/1699242/where-nations-stand-ejks-death-penalty-philippines

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/12/1680336/senate-asked-dump-death-penalty-revival

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/868760/8-senators-express-opposition-to-death-penalty

RELATED ARTICLES:

The possible rebirth of the death penalty
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Reciprocal death penalty
https://aml1205.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/reciprocal-death-penalty/

Justice, Davao Death Squad style
https://aml1205.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/justice-davao-death-squad-style/

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CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS AND THE QUESTION OF DISCRETION

One of the many issues reignited by the rise of the new administration in the Philippines is the need to address crimes committed by the youth. The law currently sets the age of criminal responsibility at fifteen. Any child younger who commits a crime is not penalized but subject to rehabilitation. Consequently, drug syndicates are using children as couriers knowing that, even if such children were caught, no penalty will be imposed.

On a similar note, youths below fifteen have been caught in crimes like rape, snatching and public fights. Laughably, there was an incident when one of them was caught and presented a birth certificate as evidence of minority and a basis to claim exemption from criminal liability.

The spirit of the law exempting the youth from criminal liability hinges on the presumption that the youth are not mature enough to have developed a sense of discretion, or the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and the ability to comprehend the consequences of their actions. But who would believe that a youth lacks discretion when, upon being caught in the act, has the nerve to present evidence and an argument to defend themselves?

Criminal responsibility should not be based on age but the ability to understand that one’s actions are wrong, and with such understanding, commits the act anyway.

Criminal responsibility should also be based on the freedom to commit the crime knowing it is wrong. Anyone reading this article was a child once, and armed with the knowledge that it is not always easy to disobey what an adult instructs. How do you make a child understand that stealing is wrong, if they go home to parents who nurture the belief that they have to steal if they want to eat? How do you make a child understand that drugs destroy the future, if they are compelled to deliver the same by an adult who has a gun pointed to their head?

Bottom line: there can be no hard and fast rules to determine criminal responsibility. Some people are intelligent criminals at the age of fourteen, some forty year old imbeciles don’t know exposing themselves to passers by qualifies as a lascivious act punishable by law.

References:

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/06/08/1590859/criminal-liability-age-may-be-lowered-12

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/794594/alvarez-files-bill-lowering-age-of-criminal-liability

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/21/1605076/plan-lower-minimum-age-crime-responsibility-opposed

Private schools back lowering age of criminal responsibility

MUSLIM TERRORISM BLAMED FOR ORLANDO BOMBING

The Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, FL frequently visited by the gay community, was subject to a bombing by a New york born radicalist named Omar Matteen. The attack has been branded as an act of terrorism, but the authorities are still unclear on why the attacker chose a gay nightclub in particular. Reports say the attack was motivated by revenge after a series of U.S. attacks on Afghanistan, the attackers supposed homeland. Absent evidence of ties to any terrorist group, the authorities stand by the assumption that the attackers radicalism is homegrown and ignited by extremist information and propaganda gracing the internet. Reports say the weapons used in the attack were all legally obtained and licensed. The incident brought to light the issues of gun control and possible LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual) discrimination.

More importantly, the incident brings to the forefront the divide between Democratic and Republican presidential aspirants the issue of unbridled migration and its connection to terrorism.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump wants a ban on Muslim migration. He stands on the premise that Muslims hate everyone from Jews to Christians, and everyone else in between – an attitude that cannot survive an open and tolerant society.

U.S. President Barrack Obama, however, apparently disagrees with such a proposal since it will discriminate against Muslims who, though of a different faith, are still Americans. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton prefers to articulate measures to combat terrorism and gun violence in American soil.

Donald Trump is coming from a point of generalization that all Muslims are incapable of tolerating anyone different from them. This is blatantly wrong since not all Muslims, just like not all human beings, are the same. A total ban on Muslim migration would be discriminatory because it will prejudice even those Muslims who have no connection to terrorism.

At the same time, prevention is better than cure, and no amount of policies to combat terrorism and illegal use of firearms will bring back the lives of people sacrificed each time the government fails in their drive to abort such acts at their conception.

Perhaps the best compromise is not a total ban on Muslim migration, but an increase in monitoring all migrants who arouse suspicion of terrorist tendencies, regardless of religion. It is not discrimination if all migrants in the same circumstances will be treated the same. It is not discrimination if there is a clear distinction that justifies a different treatment.

Not all Muslim migrants should be subject to the magnifying glass of the government – just those who appear suspicious of intending to disturb the peace and order of society.

References:

http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/06/orlando-nightclub-shooting/486713/

http://www.salon.com/2016/06/15/orlando_shooter_said_attack_was_revenge_for_u_s_bombing_of_afghanistan_survivor_recalls/

THE POSSIBLE REBIRTH OF THE DEATH PENALTY

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.

References:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/750698/duterte-wants-death-penalty-back

http://armageddonviews.weebly.com/blog/death-penalty-moral-and-judicial-debate-under-the-philippine-government

http://www.philstar.com/sunday-life/169059/are-you-or-against-death-penalty

The final presidential debate: the public interrogation

The last presidential debate aired yesterday. It was different from the earlier debates in the sense that it focused more on issues close to the hearts of the people rather than issues raised by a panel of judges. The last debate managed to downplay personal conflicts among the candidates as a major part of the program required the candidates to address issues personally raised by people from the marginal sectors of society. What follows is a summary of the issues raised and the general responses of the candidates.

Issue no. 1: THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA DISPUTE WITH CHINA

Filipino fishermen are affected by the ongoing dispute as they no longer have the freedom to fish in the disputed area. Consequently, they have lost their means to support their families.

Responses:

Roxas acknowledged the need to recognize that the Philippines suffers by comparison to China’s military resources. Given the disparity of power, Poe raised the need to approach Philippines allies who also have a vested interest in the disputed territory. Santiago pointed out the need to resort to diplomatic means first, but also mentioned the option to let the Philippine coast guard resort to tactics short of war. On this note, Duterte said he will not risk the lives of the military. He also pointed out the need to establish the legitimacy of the Philippine claim through international tribunals to compel China into submission. In the mean time, Binay’s solution is to provide other means of livelihood and support for the fishermen and their families.

Issue no. 2: CONTRACTUALIZATION OF JOBS

Many jobs limit employment to five months as a means to circumvent the labor law requirement to treat an employee as a regular with the benefits of a regular employee after six months. Consequently, many citizens cannot find permanent employment and are faced with the continuous hassle of having to apply for a job and never enjoying any employment benefits.

Responses:

The candidates all agree on the need to end contractualization which can only be done through an act of congress prohibiting the same. Santiago pointed out it’s unconstitutionality saying it violates the right to security of tenure as guaranteed by the constitution. She also raised the need to develop industries which generate more jobs, create more competition among employers who currently have the upper hand to threaten employees with replacement to get them to submit to employer demands. Poe acknowledged that contractualization is resorted to by small businesses as they cannot afford to provide employee benefits, and raised the need for the government to provide subsidies to such businesses as a means to combat the contractualization practice.

Issue no. 3: OVERSEAS CONTRACT WORKERS (OFWs) PLIGHT ABROAD

Overseas Contract Workers (OFWs) are forced to work abroad and are faced with the challenge of being away from their families for years, coupled with the difficulty of getting assistance when conflict with foreign employers arise.

Responses:

The candidates all agree on the need to generate more jobs so working abroad should become a choice and not a necessity. Binay and Roxas proposed the need for a hotline to the Philippine embassy to be available 24/7 so OFWs will have no trouble asking for assistance during their only available time or when needed. Duterte proposed the option to immediately grant a ticket to return to the country whenever they want.

Issue no. 4: TRAFFIC AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

The perpetual traffic and the effect on employees – the loss of income for coming in late, the loss of family and personal time which is instead dedicated to time on the road.

Responses:

The candidates raised the following solutions: the development of the Metro Railway Transit (MRT) and Light Railway Transit (LRT) to provide for alternative means of transportation; the development of public transportation in general to discourage private transportation which is a contributing factor to road congestion; expedite the bidding process to avoid delays for projects to develop road widening and transportation; continuous monitoring of streets for the religious implementation of traffic rules

Issue no. 5: LACK OF MEDICAL CARE

The lack of medical care in remote areas which leads to loss of lives – a consequence which could be spared if only medical assistance were available within the vicinity.

Responses:

The candidates acknowledge that the root of the problem is the lack of medical personnel willing to take assignments in such areas. There was a proposal to provide scholarships for medical education for residents in the area to guarantee that such areas will have at least one doctor. There is the need for hospitals with complete facilities and supplies, and the need for the government to continuously monitor the maintenance of such institutions.

Issue no. 6: THE WAR IN MINDANAO

Who will finally end the perpetual peace and order problem in Muslim Mindanao? A single mother raised the issue on behalf of other women who are left with the burden of protecting their children in the middle of the ongoing war.

Responses:

The candidates point to poverty as the root of the Mindanao problem, and recognize the lack of attention that the Muslim province has received from the government. Roxas insists that this has already been addressed and that Mindanao has been given a bigger budget and points to developments in infrastructure to back up his claim. Duterte goes a step further by raising the historical roots of the problem and the urgency to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law – a law that will solidify Mindanao’s autonomy from the national government.

References:

http://www.thesummitexpress.com/2016/04/livestream-3rd-and-final-pilipinas-debates-2016-on-abs-cbn-video-now-up.html

http://www.thesummitexpress.com/2016/04/full-video-replay-comelec-abs-cbn-3rd-pilipinas-debates-2016.html

Related article:

Presidential Battle Highlights
https://aml1205.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/presidential-battle-highlights/

Presidential Battle Highlights

As election day looms closer, the population of Philippine voters must confront the inevitable decision as to who will become the next president. Will it be the crime and punishment advocate who promises to instill order and free the entire country from criminals within six months, perhaps through the same extra judicial executions prevalent in his local territory? Will it be the fighter against graft and corruption, who is also fighting to survive cancer and its complications? Will it be the former mayor of the country’s flourishing business district turned vice president, who continues to be haunted with corruption charges? Or should the presidential throne go to the administration bet who has enough resources to come up with campaign ads graced with innuendos against his opponents? Or should the new kid on the block be given a chance, the one whose citizenship was questioned, overshadowing the fact that her lack of experience in government service is a bigger reason to question her candidacy?

The deal is far from sealed, but the two presidential debates aired live definitely served as an instrument to bring the five candidates up for scrutiny – just like the potential candidates for the highest position in a company (okay, in this case, in the country). The debates not only exposed the ideals each candidate stood for but also how they respond to attacks. Some of the more notable expositions follow.

The candidate who vows to remove income tax for employees earning below 30,000 pesos has no idea how this is going to work, he merely assumes the government’s other sources of funds will be able to compensate for the taxes that will no longer be collected in honor of his promise.

The administration candidate who boasts about the increase in the number of drug pushers his department has placed behind bars, had no sound rebuttal to the claim that drug pushing continues behind bars.

There is an overlapping of authorities when it comes to the control and supervision of the police force, as the candidates who occupied a mayor’s post and the internal and local government secretary ended up pointing fingers over a failed military operation a year ago which claimed the lives of forty-four soldiers.

The candidate whose citizenship was questioned was alleged to have said she hates the country she is now attempting to run. Her rebuttal is at least she is not stealing from the government.

The divorce bill, if ever subjected to veto power is a goner since none of the candidates will support it…but, hey, there is a chance that the death penalty will rise from the grave.

Now, back to square one: who should be the next president among such ‘promising’ candidates? May 9, 2016 for the answer.

References:

http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2016/03/20/second-presidential-debate-cebu-grace-poe-jejomar-binay-rodrigo-duterte-mar-roxas.html

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/03/22/1565251/fact-checking-second-presidential-debate

The Consequences of Unbridled Free Speech

Congressman and world renowned boxer Manny Pacquiao got himself into hot water with a comment that likened gay people to animals. As the comment quickly gained an array of unfavorable responses, Manny Pacquiao quickly issued an apology, but reiterated his stand against same sex marriage. Despite the apology, Pacquiao was hit with the loss of an international deal along with several twitter followers.

The Pacquiao comment brings under the microscope two main issues: the clamor to legitimize gay marriage in a staunchly Catholic nation, and the limit to freedom of expression that should be imposed on everyone regardless of moral standing.

Based on the current draft of the constitution which specifies marriage to be a union between a man and a woman, there is no way to legitimize gay marriage in the country. Neither can sex change circumvent the constitution as the Supreme Court has already ruled that the law does not recognize such a human induced transformation. Given the Catholic roots that has not totally lost its grip on the country’s political culture and continues to influence government decisions, it will be difficult to amend the constitution to open the door towards legalizing gay marriage. While the public recognizes everyone’s right to love and happiness, many remain strongly against gay marriage. Such was the case with Many Pacquiao.

So does Pacquiao’s opposition to gay marriage justify the derisive comment?

Not only is freedom of expression a constitutional right, it ranks as the highest among all civil liberties. The law puts a very high premium on self expression to the extent that it prohibits any limitation to the right unless there is a clear and present danger of an evil which the government has an obligation to protect the public against.

Manny Pacquiao’s comment was malicious and careless, but it was too trivial to merit any attention from the government to step in and put a cap on his right to self expression. Whether the comment was justified or not, there is nothing in the law that can prohibit it’s expression, or others like it, unless the consequences to the public be so grave that the government must intervene. But the only one who suffered from this whole charade is Manny Pacquiao himself for his lack of discretion. He insists that God is on his side, so he must be living a very troubled life if he is in the presence of a God who discriminates among people. On a personal note, the God in my life accepts and forgives everyone. How about you, you know of any God that instills the belief in people that they have a right to judge everyone else?

As civilized human beings living in a democracy, we are all required to set our own limitations on our actions – hopefully, the boxer/ congressman has learned the hard lesson.

References:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/feb/18/manny-pacquiaos-anti-gay-rhetoric-permanently-mars-a-hard-won-legacy

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35610531

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/boxing-great-manny-pacquiao-refuses-back-down-gay-034216358–box.html

Related article:

Freedom of Expression is NOT for Adults Only
https://aml1205.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/freedom-of-expression-is-not-for-adults-only-2/