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Death penalty never a solution to crime:

n March 11, at the beginning of the Lent season in the Philippines, where more than
90% of the population are Catholic Christians, the brutal murder and possible sexual
assault of Christine Lee Silawan, a 16-year-old girl from Cebu City, in Central
Visayas region, revived the call for the death penalty. The girl’s face was skinned, and
the esophagus, tongue, and trachea were missing. A 17-year-old suspect was under the
police custody. He was later released because of technicalities. The girl’s gruesome
death reminded the nation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise: reimposition of
capital punishment for drug-related offenses and heinous crimes.
On March 7, 2017, House Bill 4727 was approved in Congress. If it becomes law, the
bill will revive the death penalty either by hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection. It
was lauded by Malacañang Palace as an effective measure on Duterte’s war on drugs,
but the Senate does not see it as a priority.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Duterte promised to revive the death penalty,
believing that it would be a deterrent to criminals, specifically the drug lords. He
believes that the “essence of the country’s penal code is retribution.”

In the 2018 Global Peace Index Report conducted by the Australian-based Institute for
Economics and Peace, the Philippines ranked as the second least peaceful country in
the Asia-Pacific region, despite the lower crime rate recorded by the Philippine
National Police (PNP) in the same year.

According to the PNP, the crime rate was reduced to 9.13%, or a total of 473,068
crimes compared with 520,641 crimes posted in 2017. However, the murder rate in
the capital city Manila was up by 112%. Common crimes in the Philippines include
crime against a person – murder, rape, domestic violence – and crime against
property, which includes robbery, theft and fraud. Drug trafficking and trade, human
trafficking, and corruption are also rampant despite the government’s effort to curb
Crime against women

According to Edna Aquino, convener of the #Babae Ako (Iamawoman) Campaign,

violence against women and girls, particularly rape, has been invoked in arguments to
impose the death penalty. However, Aquino instead urges strong enforcement of
existing laws such as those against rape and child abuse.

“Most women survivors of violence wish to see true and impartial justice delivered to
them through fair trials and convictions, and through more robust enforcement of
existing laws,” Aquino said.

According to the Center for Women’s Resources, one woman or child is raped every
hour in the Philippines.

Duterte is known for his misogynistic comments and encouragement of killings.

During his speech to soldiers and rebel returnees in Mindanao, he was quoted as
saying that raping three women is OK, and told them to shoot female rebels in their

Davao City in Mindanao, Duterte’s bailiwick, had the highest number of rape cases in
2018, according to the PNP.
Father Flavie Villanueva, a Society of the Divine Word coordinator and the founder of
Justice-Peace Integrity of Creation and also the executive director of AJ Kalinga Inc,
believes that Duterte’s words have impact on how men treat women.

“Mr Duterte is not an ordinary citizen, he has the highest seat in the executive branch.
When you say executive, what he says becomes a policy. There is no room here for
freedom of expression. Because every expression that you create is regarded by
people as something as executive,” Father Villanueva said.

‘Life is sacred’

In his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2017, Duterte expressed his
support for the reimposition of the death penalty, triggering criticisms from the
Catholic hierarchy, from human-rights activists, and even from senators.
“In the Philippines, it is really an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. You took life, you
must pay it with life. That is the only way to [make it] even. You cannot place a
premium on the human mind that he will go straight,” Duterte said during the SONA.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) disagreed.

“We want punishment for the horrendous act committed but we do not call for
the killing of a suspect nor the perpetrator who will be subjected to the
imperfect justice system run by imperfect duty bearers,” CHR commissioner
Karen Gomez-Dumpit said. She stressed that the death penalty is equated to
a murder perpetrated by state agents because it is deliberate and
premeditated and purposely kills a person. Father Villanueva agreed that it
can never solve crimes, but instead creates a culture of fear and violence.

Aquino said the death penalty “threatens the fundamental rights of people,
capital punishment will dismantle any hopes we have of building a peaceful,
accountable and equal society which values human life and human rights; it
further erodes our hopes for a people-centric governance model.”

‘Dancing with death’

In the only country in Asia to first ban the death penalty, then later reimpose it
and ban it again, the international community as well as the Catholic Church
and human-rights advocates are focusing again on Duterte’s latest stand on
reviving capital punishment.

House Bill 4727, authored by former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, was
approved in Congress. The bill seeks death or life-long imprisonment on
conviction of drug-related charges, including trafficking, manufacturing,
importing, maintenance of drug dens and other drug-related crimes. The crime
of plunder is no longer included. It will not impose the death penalty on
convicted persons who were below 18 years of age or more than 70 years old
during the commission of the crime.
Flawed justice

According to the Supreme Court decision on the case of People vs Mateo in

2004, after 11 years, it was found that there was a 71.77% error rate in
verdicts and decisions impacting disproportionately against the poor. Before
2006, 483 death-penalty cases or 53.25% were reduced to reclusión
perpetua or life imprisonment, while 65 cases were acquitted.
Blaming the CHR for the rise of crimes or why criminals get away is illogical.

“CHR does not have the mandate of being a law enforcer. We cannot digress
from the issues that matter and must help, within our respective mandates
and responsibilities, the police and other law-enforcement agencies’ mission
to serve and protect the people. The police as a human-rights protector of all
persons (without exception) need to be put at the front and center of the
‘solutions to rising criminality’ debate,” Gomez-Dumpit said.

Aquino also said there was an urgent need for reforms in the justice system.
Court cases can can drags on for several years, in addition to biased and
prejudicial proceedings and frequent miscarriages of justice.

In a 2018 survey of Social Weather Stations and CHR, it was found out that 7
out of 10 Filipinos do not support the death penalty.

Dual purpose

Capital punishment in the Philippines has a long history. During the Spanish
period (1521-1898), American colonization, the Japanese occupation and the
martial-law era under the Ferdinand Marcos regime, capital punishment was
used not only to deter crimes but also used to curtail freedom.
After the People Power Revolution the death penalty was abolished by the
1987 constitution, “unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes,
Congress hereafter provides for it.” The Philippines thus became the first
country in Asia to abolish the death penalty.
However, calls for the reimposition of the death penalty did not abate. The
military lobbied for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines to be

But it was only in 1993, during the presidency of Fidel Ramos, a Protestant,
that the death penalty was restored by virtue of Republic Act 7659 because of
rising criminality.

Despite the death penalty, however, the crime rate continued to soar. In 1999
it increased by 15.3%. President Joseph Estrada issued a de facto
moratorium on executions because of pressure from the Catholic Church and
rights groups.

Finally, on June 24, 2006, president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed into law
the Republic Act 9346, titled “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of the Death
Penalty.” The death penalty was downgraded to life imprisonment. The
Philippines entered the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of
the death penalty in November 2007. This act in effective binds the
Philippines never again to reintroduce the death penalty.

Rule of law

Father Villanueva has seen the worst in his ministry to the orphans and
widows of Duterte’s drug war. Although he thinks that the Philippines is
already desensitized to the point of reaching the “threshold of inhumanity,” he
still believes in restorative justice, where society must provide a chance for
criminals to reform.

The CHR is always anchored on the universality of human rights and to look
at violations of human rights, shortcomings, abuses, and failure of government
institutions to uphold the human rights of all persons. The government (the
executive) has the primary duty to implement programs that respect, protect
and fulfill human rights.
“We are a system of laws. We adhere to the rule of law and the right to due
process for everyone. The deprivation of due process is an injustice that will
mean more when it is us or family who is affected. The guarantee of due
process and the rule of law will ensure that when it is our turn, we are assured
that we will be treated evenly and fairly,” Gomez-Dumpit concluded.

But Duterte has already imposed the death sentence on us Filipinos whether
we are guilty of heinous crimes or not. His anti-people policies and shoot-to-
kill orders are enough to wipe out not only the criminals but those who are
opposing him.


Philippines: The death penalty is an

inhumane, unlawful and ineffective response
to drugs
7 March 2017, 13:19 UTC

The adoption of a draft law by the Philippine House of Representatives to revive the death penalty
sets the country on a dangerous path in flagrant violation of its international legal obligations,
Amnesty International said today.

“The idea that the death penalty will rid the country of drugs is simply wrong. The resumption of
executions will not rid the Philippines of problems associated with drugs or deter crime. It is an
inhumane, ineffective punishment and is never the solution. The Philippines’ attempts to reintroduce
it are clearly unlawful. This will just earn the country notoriety as one of the few countries to revive its
horrific use,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Today, the House of Representatives of the Philippines adopted on its third and final reading of
House Bill 4727, a measure put forward by President Duterte’s majority coalition to reintroduce the
death penalty.

The idea that the death penalty will rid the country of drugs is simply wrong. The resumption of
executions will not rid the Philippines of problems associated with drugs or deter crime. It is an
inhumane, ineffective punishment and is never the solution. The Philippines’ attempts to reintroduce it
are clearly unlawful
Champa Patel

The proposal was passed with 216 votes in favour, 54 against and one abstention. The Speaker of
the House openly threatened to strip members of Congress of key positions if they dared to vote
against the bill, or even abstain from voting. The bill will now go to the Senate.

“The Senate is now the Philippines’ last real hope of upholding its international obligations and
rescuing the country from this backwards step,” said Champa Patel.

The draft law has been passed at a time when the country is reeling from a wave of more than 8,000
deaths, many of them through extrajudicial executions in its “war on drugs” since President Rodrigo
Duterte came to power on 30 June 2016.

Amnesty International is opposed to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances. Under
international law, the death penalty must be restricted to most serious crimes, and drug related
crimes do not meet this threshold. There is also no evidence to show that the death penalty has a
unique deterrent effect.

“The death penalty for alleged drug offenders, like extrajudicial executions, violates international law,
deprives people of the right to life, and disproportionately targets the poor,” said Champa Patel.

In 2007 the Philippines ratified an international treaty that categorically prohibits executions and
commits the country to the abolition of the death penalty. Legally, this obligation cannot be
withdrawn at any time.

Since the death penalty was abolished in 2006, the Philippines has been a strong advocate against
capital punishment and has championed several initiatives to this end in international forums. It has
also worked to commute the death sentences imposed on Filipino nationals abroad, such as
overseas workers.

“If the Philippines authorities want to deal with the root causes of drug-related offences, they should
support humane, voluntary, health-focused and evidence-based policies as an alternative,” said
Champa Patel.


House Bill 4727 is a consolidated version of several proposals adopted by the Sub-Committee on
Judicial Reforms of the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives on 29 November

As of today, 141 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice; in the Asia Pacific
region, 19 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and a further eight are
abolitionist in practice. The new Criminal Code of Mongolia abolishing the death penalty for all
crimes will become effective in July 2017.

reiterate its opposition to
the reimposition of the
death penalty in the
World Day Against Death Penalty
October 10, 2019

Immediately upon assuming office, neophyte Senators Bong Go and Ronald De La Rosa filed proposed
legislation reinstating the death penalty, along with 19 others in both Houses of Congress. This is in
keeping with the order of President Duterte during his 2019 state of the nation address. Senator Manny
Pacquiao said this is in line with God’s will because Jesus Christ was crucified. Many debates thence
focused on the method of execution- hanging, firing squad, lethal injection.

The reimposition of death penalty is being pushed to support the war on drugs which is currently mired in
scandal due to so-called ‘ninja cops’- police involved in recycling seized drugs and planting them on drug
suspects, the mixed messages of President Duterte about military generals being involved in drug
recycling, and the feud between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine
National Police (PNP).

While legislators insist that the death penalty will curb drug trafficking, President Duterte said it is simply
for revenge on behalf of the families of victims of heinous, drug-fueled crimes. Meanwhile, illicit drugs
continue to be traded particularly in the Davao region, drug lords continue to evade justice, and the
thousands of victims of extrajudicial execution have yet to be found guilty of the crimes they were killed

In a 2018 survey, less than 50 percent of respondents supported the death penalty for particular crimes.
The majority of the people’s priorities still consist of livelihood, inflation, health, and education. Another
survey revealed that 21 percent of Filipinos (21 million) live in poverty. Deutsche Bank recently even
ranked Manila among the lowest in the quality of life, income, safety, health care, traffic commute, and
pollution. These conditions remain the biggest factors that give rise to criminality including drug trafficking.

To date, there has been no scientific evidence of capital punishment’s deterr

To date, there has been no scientific evidence of capital punishment’s deterrence to crime nor its ability to
end drug trafficking. In the face of such a magnitude of corruption in law enforcement agencies waging
the war on drugs, the suspicion of the involvement of the highest officials of the land and the continued
trade in illegal drugs, the death penalty will only set more fuel to the fire of Duterte’s failing anti-drug

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) and the United Against Torture Coalition
(UATC) reiterate its opposition to the reimposition of the death penalty in the country.
The government’s trigger-happy solutions to complex, decades-long problems that feed widespread
inequality and marginalization will only result in tyranny taking root over a desperate population. The
government must do the hard work of sustainably addressing poverty as well as the work of reforming the
justice system. Anything less will only replicate the horrors of the war on drugs, where the poor suffered
the brunt of its execution. The death penalty will most surely victimize the poor, exempt the rich, and
perpetuate the violent culture of death permeating our society.

#EndTheAssault on the Right to Life!

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Joint Statement: Call for

Asian Countries to End the
Death Penalty and Respect
the Right to Life -Forum-
Joint Statement: Call for Asian Countries to End the Death Penalty and Respect the Right to Life

(Bangkok, 10 October 2018) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM–ASIA)
and 22 civil society organisations in Asia condemn the recent imposition of the death penalty by the
Singaporean authorities on Abdul Wahid Bin Ismail, Mohsen Bin Na’im, and Zainudin bin Mohamed. All
three were convicted of drug related offences and were executed on 5 October 2018. As a network of
human rights organisations, FORUM-ASIA sees the death penalty as a grave violation of the right to life –
the most fundamental and essential human right for other rights to be realised. It serves no purpose to the
State and its people in their pursuit of justice. We therefore call on the Government of Singapore, and
other governments in Asia that retain the death penalty to immediately impose a moratorium to the death
penalty, as a first step towards its abolition.
The use of the death penalty has seen a global decline in the recent years, signifying a movement
towards more effective ways of deterring crimes. Despite this global trend, several governments in Asia
continue to use the death penalty. Just this year, India expanded the scope of crimes covered by the
death penalty. The numbers of those sentenced to capital punishment in Bangladesh yearly remains
unabated. The region has also seen an increased tendency to use the death penalty for drug-related
offences. Indonesia has been executing primarily those convicted of drug trafficking in recent years. It is
estimated that China executes hundreds to thousands yearly for drug trafficking or murder, although
exact figures are hard to find. The Sri Lankan Cabinet recently approved the President’s proposal to take
steps towards implementing the capital punishment to those sentenced to death for drug offences and
who continue to operate ‘drug rackets’ while in prison. In the Philippines, several State officials continue
to push for the revival of the death penalty, despite having previously committed itself to its abolition.

Governments continue to retain the death penalty despite troubling concerns. There is no convincing
evidence to support that the death penalty deters crime. In Mongolia, the death penalty was abolished
after it was recognised that the threat of execution did not have a deterrent effect. Arguments for its use
are based more on public opinion rather than on solid scientific evidence. The effect of the death penalty
disproportionately affects those who are often the poor and the most marginalised, as they have limited
access to resource and power. Judicial systems worldwide are all susceptible to abuse. In Vietnam, the
cases of Ho Duy Hai and Le Van Manh, who were sentenced to death despite gaps in evidence and
allegations of police impunity, cast strong doubts on the credibility of the judicial system. Capital
punishment is irreversible; it violates the right to life and the right to live free from cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment – fundamental rights of all human beings. It goes against our goals of promoting
rehabilitation for the convicted, and the values and standards and universal human rights we all stand for.

On the World Day against the Death Penalty, we express our grave concern on the continuing use of the
death penalty in Asia. We call on all governments to work for the abolition of the death penalty and to
create a justice system that can respect human rights for all, including the perpetrators and the victims.
Only when we respect the right to life and dignity of all can we move towards a global humane society.

The statement is endorsed by:

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodia
Community Resource Centre, Thailand
Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC), Nepal
Equality Myanmar, Myanmar
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
Human Rights Alert, India
INFORM, Sri Lanka
Law & Society Trust, Sri Lanka
National (Catholic) Commission for Justice and Peace
Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA), Bangladesh
Maldivian Democracy Network, Maldives
Odhikar, Bangladesh
People’s Watch, India
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), India
Suara Rakyat Malaysia, Malaysia
Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taiwan
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Philippines
Think Centre, Singapore
Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, Vietnam
Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia

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Senate Urged to Junk

Death Penalty Bills to Avert
Negative Economic
Implications, Deeper
Poverty -Lakbay-Buhay
Manila- A major coalition of civil society, faith-based organizations and the Catholic Church called on
Senate Thursday, 24th May to junk all proposed bills filed to reimpose death penalty in the country due to
massive social and economic implications that would exacerbate poverty in the country. Rising inequality
and a crisis in human rights is a lethal mix that seriously undermines the Philippines’ efforts in making a
progressive leap towards a more developed and industrialized nation.

There are some 100 organizations that have banded together to ensure that there will be no law
reinstating death penalty. The 1987 Constitution which had a very strong language on human rights and
Bill of Rights abolished capital punishment under Art. 3 Section 19, but with an opening for Congress to
reinstate it for compelling reasons: “unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes.” Capital
Punishment was reimposed in 1999 under former President Fidel Ramos and it was abolished in 2006
under then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Amidst alarming reports of continuing extra-judicial killings perpetrated by State forces and unidentified
armed assassins, the House of Representatives approved a special law on capital punishment covering
drug related crimes. Despite this, there have been no big drug syndicates targeted in police operations
and no suspected high-value targets have been arrested.

The growing alarm at the Duterte administration’s hurried move to revive capital punishment was
dramatized in a 19-day march from Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao to Senate by a group representing the
vulnerable and marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples, women, youth, farmers and urban poor.
They aimed to challenge the survey revealing that three out of five Filipinos favour death penalty.

“Capital punishment is the most inhumane form of human rights violations and this has massive
implications on our lives as a people and a nation. When the Duterte administration started its drug war,
it was very evident that only the poor were persecuted through extra-judicial killings. We are alarmed.
When death penalty covering drug crimes is institutionalized, we, the poor will be the primary victims. We
can never afford to defend ourselves under a very retributive and flawed justice system that we have at
the moment,” Romulo Dumalag Jr. 33, a pilgrim of LakbayBuhay from Sentro Labor group stated in a
press conference.
The group asserts that a Death Penalty law is anti-poor because it discriminates against the poor, the
mentally ill and juveniles. It takes a long time to resolve issues in court and cost of defense is very
restrictive for the poor. In a study by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG ), “Back in 2004 the Free
Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) did a survey of 890 death row inmates. Among other things, FLAG found
that 79% of death row inmates did not reach college and 63% were previously employed in blue-collar
work in sectors like agriculture, transport, and construction.” FLAG stated that most of the rich inmates
were able to afford decent legal assistance or a battery of lawyers to defend themselves in court.

Senate has yet to discuss the bills filed by Senators Manny Pacquaio, Tito Sotto and PanfiloLacson.
“While we get assurance that Senate does not seem keen on passing it, we want to urge Senate to
categorically commit to junk the bills. Not only do we have treaty obligations especially respecting the
2nd Optional Protocols on the UN Convention of International, Civil and Political Rights which abolishes
the death penalty but there are grave implications to our GSP+ (Generalized Scheme of Preference)
status granted by the EU in 2014. GSP+ provides minimal to zero tariff for our exports to the EU,”
NinianSumadia from the youth sector and one of the 15 pilgrims stated.

The GSP+ is usually granted when a country successfully ratifies and implements international
conventions relating to human and labour rights, the environment and good governance. The GSP+
status of the country now covers some 6,274 products boosting economic growth in the export industry
and local economy. President Duterte has recently declared that the Philippines is no longer accepting
aid from the EU as it has secured new investment pledges from China.

“If we measure the impacts of our current status in the EU while we protect our democratic institutions, it
is all worth it to junk the the death penalty proposals. We have protected our rights for a long time and we
continue to fight for our economic rights and improvement of our quality of lives. This is why we have
marched, ran and journeyed from Cagayan de Oro to the Philippine Senate in Manila to dramatize our
plea. We need lands, we need the coco levy funds, decent housing, agricultural productivity and support
for the young and women farmers, quality jobs and proper education for our youth. The banner of this
movement is economic empowerment- not death,” popular running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, the pilgrims’
spiritual adviser stated.

The 15 pilgrims called on the three Senators to make a choice in favour of protecting people’s lives. The
pilgrims called on government to stop treating the drug issue as a mere police problem but a social and
medical problem.

“Government should end the language of war and violence, and address the root cause of the drugs
issue, including meaningful approaches to the supply side, effective law enforcement in relation to
powerful drug lords, and inculcating a comprehensive anti-poverty program. Criminality will be deterred
only if we have a restorative justice system. Let us not lose hope on life, let us not lose hope for the poor.
As a representative of the youth, we will not tolerate a culture of killing and impunity, ”Sumadia

The pilgrimage backed-up by nationwide civil society and faith-based organizations will vigorously
continue a massive popular education and awareness program to make more Filipinos analyze the
impact of death penalty in the country. -30-

Reference: SocBanzuela 0917 541 0541

Heidi Fernandez 0905 362 2195

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original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the
tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc