A Philippine Human Rights NGO providing Psychosocial Services and Rehabilitation to Internally Displaced Persons and Survivors of Torture and Organized Violence.

Balay calls on Legislators to Reject the Reimposition of Death Penalty

We call on to our legislators to reject House Bill No. 4727 which seeks for the reimposition of Death Penalty. Capital punishment must not be revived for any crime for the following reasons;

  1. The death penalty desecrates the right to life, which is sacrosanct and inviolable, and it is an affront to human dignity. Pope Francis instructs that the “inviolability of life extends to the criminal."
  2. Empirical data from the Philippines and worldwide documents that the death penalty through the years has not been an effective deterrent to crime.
  3. The death penalty exacerbates the culture of violence and its revival adds State-sanctioned killings to the ongoing unabated extrajudicial killings related to the deathly campaign against the drug menace.
  4. The death penalty cannot be prioritized over the long-delayed reforms in our flawed police, prosecutorial and judicial systems, which make genuine justice illusory too the majority of our people.
  5. The death penalty further marginalizes and victimizes the poor who can neither retain competent counsel nor influence court processes.
  6. Capital punishment enforces punitive and retributive justice instead of promoting the modern concept of penology on restorative justice, which aims to reform the convict and prepare his integration into society.
  7. The revival of the death penalty utterly fails to consider that human justice us fallible and even the innocent can be executed. The fact that many death sentences are reversed anyway upon automatic review by the Supreme Court is not a proper argument for the re-imposition of the death penalty. It overlooks the irreparable trauma of a convict and his family while awaiting the final decision on his death sentence. In fact, Commissioner Joaquin Bernas during the Constitutional Commission deliberates clearly stated that “…capital punishment is inhuman for the convict and his family who are traumatized by the waiting, even if it is never carried out.”
  8. The 1987 Constitution does not prescribe the death penalty. On the contrary, it abolished the death penalty, although the Congress is allowed to reimpose it for compelling reasons on heinous crimes.
  9. However, as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional protocol on the ICCPR, after the ratification of the Constitution, the Philippines is committed to abolish the death penalty and not to reimpose it. These treaty obligations, as accepted principles of international law, form part of the Philippine law, primarily the Constitution. International conventions and jurisprudence provide that a country cannot assert its domestic law or Constitution to negate or violate its treaty obligations.
  10. There are serious economic repercussions if the Philippines reimposes the death penalty as we would lose free tariff privileges on our exports to European Union countries which require adherence to human rights.
  11. With the revival of the death penalty, the Philippines would lose moral ascendancy in negotiating for the lifting of the death sentences on Filipino OFWs numbering over 70 worldwide.
  12. The irreversible trend is the diminishing number of countries imposing the death penalty. Out of 195 countries documented by the UN, only 37 retain the death penalty in both law and in practice. Only four countries – China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – account for 90% of executions.

Finally, we call on to our legislators to focus more on urgent matters such as creating more jobs, pass bills that would help in alleviating poverty, and honor the right of the people to live with dignity.