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.



The possible rebirth of the death penalty

Reciprocal death penalty

Justice, Davao Death Squad style


Justice, Davao Death Squad style

The Davao Death Squad is a vigilante group prowling the province of Davao, Philippines and reputed to carry out extrajudicial killings of criminals. Davao mayor and potential presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte has admitted links to the said squad. Consequently, he also warns of the consequences should he win the presidency: the extrajudicial killings which are currently limited to his province will extend to the whole country; if the present count of extrajudicial killings is at 1000 criminals, the number may go up to 50,000.

So, aside from the Commission on Human Rights, is anyone else complaining? The province of Davao has come to have one of the lowest crime rates in the country. If this can be attributed to the Davao Death Squad and if they can take their operations to benefit the entire country, why should anyone oppose the idea?

Oh, right, we have a constitution which advocates that no one should be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law. The imposition of the death penalty is also suspended which implies that it is prohibited to kill someone under the pretext that they committed a crime, no matter how heinous.

But what is there to do when the intended safeguards of the legal system backfire in the sense that it protects the criminals but in the process sacrifices the right of everyone else to a safe and secure environment?

Let’s take a look at some of the consequences of too much due process and the uncalled for suspension of the death penalty: court hearings can be delayed endlessly, so with the detention and conviction of alleged criminals. Meanwhile, such alleged criminals continue to enjoy the freedom to roam the streets. No one can stop them despite the underlying threat they pose because, as they have not been convicted, they continue to enjoy their liberty. Even after conviction for the most heinous crime, no one can demand for the imposition of the death penalty.

This article was not intended to justify the existence of the Davao Death Squad nor to support the possible candidacy of the mayor linked to the same. It was only intended to point out that sometimes the permanent expulsion of hardened criminals is the only solution to the peace and order problem. It is unclear if the squad carries out its own process to ascertain the guilt of their potential victim, but that is another story. Right now, the story that matters is that the Davao Death Squad has had a positive effect on a part of the country and, unless you’re a criminal, planning to be one, or related to one, their taking a prowl in the rest of the country should not be feared but welcomed.