PLCPD condemns the railroading of death penalty bill in the House of Representatives

March 2, 2017

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development condemns in the strongest terms the railroaded approval on 2nd Reading of the bill aiming to reimpose death penalty in the country. The successful movement of proposals to revive capital punishment in the legislative mill was not without a good deal of intimidation and blatant disregard of proper argumentation. Yesterday evening, the death penalty bill was approved on second reading in the House of Representatives. Pro-death penalty legislators prevailed in the voice vote. Anti-death penalty solons led by PLCPD Chair Emeritus Rep. Edcel Lagman attempted to move for nominal voting, an effort that ended in failure as the session was immediately adjourned after the bill was approved.

As an organization that seeks to empower and uplift Filipinos through responsive and people-centered legislation, PLCPD is unyielding in its opposition to death penalty because it violates human rights and of its disproportionate impact on the poor. The poor have limited access to competent legal support to properly rally their cases. Poor inmates have revealed that they admitted to crimes to be incarcerated in the place of high-powered perpetrators, for compensation as well as guaranteed protection for the families they leave behind. Also making the poor more vulnerable to the ravages of death penalty is a corrupt and biased justice system such as ours, with the Supreme Court itself finding that a staggering 77% or roughly eight out of 10 death row convictions from 1993-2004 have been erroneously made.

As for pro-death penalty arguments citing crime reduction, local and international criminologists are in agreement that death penalty does not deter crime. The best deterrent of crime is certainty of apprehension. As such, resources should be invested on improving police performance rather than the incurring costs with executions. Moreover, PNP data also show that incidence of crimes in the Philippines decreased after the death penalty was lifted in 2006.

Upon removal of the death penalty, the Philippines ratified Optional Protocol 2 (OP2) to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2007, a vow to permanently end capital punishment. Reneging on the said agreement violates this commitment and imperils the validity of our international treaties and trade deals.

PLCPD also believes in non-punitive approaches to justice that will still uphold the humanity of offenders. Such means include removing an offender from society to mitigate risk of harming others (incapacitation), which can be accomplished by reasonable terms of imprisonment. Mechanisms can also be put in place so that convicts can be reintroduced into society as productive members after their period of incarceration (rehabilitation). The finality and irreversibility of the punishment of death completely give up on the chance at a life of dignity.

PLCPD commits vigilance in the particularly accelerated progress of this legislation which will negate decades worth of gains in the human rights crusade. We also call on the Senators to exercise prudence as they deliberate the counterpart bill in their chamber.