"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Philippines: House leaders slam Duterte's plan to revive public executions

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
House leaders have rejected the planned public executions by hanging especially on drug-related crimes by incoming president Rodrigo Roa Duterte, saying that the re-imposition of death penalty is not the antidote to the rising cases of crimes in the country.

Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr., vice president of the Liberal Party, maintained that the revival of death penalty is not the answer to the brutality of criminals who prey on the old and the weak.

He described as "divisive" Duterte's plan to restore the death penalty and said that "it won't fly."

"A very divisive issue in the House," Belmonte, vice president of the ruling Liberal party (LP), said, adding that the country's criminal justice system should be strengthened first.

But Belmonte was quick to add that they will be "supportive" of the Duterte administration's programs and legislative agenda.

On Monday, Duterte vowed to push for the restoration of death penalty for heinous crimes including robbery with rape.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, for his part, insisted "the problem is the lack of effective and efficient law enforcement."

"It is not and never will be an effective deterrent to the commission of crimes and will not address this serious problem," he said.

1-BAP Party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, who served as Justice Secretary during the Ramos administration, said the best and most effective deterrent to criminality is the quick and effective apprehension and prosecution of criminals.

"The death penalty runs counter to the provision and spirit of our Constitution against inhuman and cruel punishment," he said.

In an earlier interview, Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo branded the proposal as "anti-poor", "considering that no rich person has been executed in the last 40 years."

"The presence of the death penalty has no effect on the reduction of criminality," he said.

Republic Act (RA) No. 7659 or the Death Penalty Law was scrapped during the leadership of 2 women presidents - the late President Corazon Aquino and former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.


Father Amado Picardal, who helped bury a teenager from a slum family who was gunned down by motorcycle-riding assassins in Davao, said a Duterte presidency is "very frightening."

He added that human rights groups will need to keep a close watch and document any violations, especially extrajudicial killings, in the next 6 years.

In a report, the Commission on Human Rights said 206 people, mostly suspected criminals and including 19 minors, were slain in shootings and stabbings attributed to the death squads from 2005 to 2009 alone, adding that there were witnesses to at least 94 of the killings.

"Nobody wanted to testify," said Loretta Ann Rosales, who headed the commission at the time. "There was a measure of fear. We can't prove his criminal liability because nobody would say that he ordered the killings."

Phelim Kine of the US-based group Human Rights Watch said it found no hard evidence of any direct role by Duterte in 28 death-squad killings, mostly from 2007 to 2008 that it investigated.

Rosales said the Philippine human rights commission asked the Ombudsman, which prosecutes officials for wrongdoing, to investigate Duterte in 2012 for possible administrative liability "for his inaction in the face of evidence of numerous killings committed in Davao City and his toleration of the commission of those offenses."

Despite his brash campaign rhetoric, Duterte will find it hard to bring his Davao crime-fighting style to the rest of the country because of the oversight of Congress, the judiciary and other agencies that check abuses. The world will be watching too, said Picardal, who was assigned to Davao for many years until he moved to Manila in 2011.

"There are checks and balances," he said. "The eyes of the nation and the world are on him."

Source: Manila Bulletin, May 18, 2016

Return of death penalty to be tackled in first 100 days of next Congress

The reimposition of the death penalty will be among the top legislative priorities when the 17th Congress starts in July, the point person of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte in the House of Representatives said.

Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez said bills for the reinstatement of capital punishment will be tackled within the first 100 days of the incoming Congress.

"Isasalang 'yan," he told reporters Wednesday in a press conference in Pasay City. Duterte, known for his tough stance against crime, has been vocal about his desire to bring back capital punishment, particularly for heinous crimes such as rape.

Earlier this week, the outgoing Davao City mayor said he wants to impose death penalty by hanging. Alvarez, Duterte's choice for Speaker, is aware the proposal to revive death penalty could face rough sailing in the Congress but is determined to push for its passage.

"We respect yung mga iba't ibang opinions on the matter but the President campaigned on the basis of those platforms and the people voted for him, meaning meron siyang mandate to effect the necessary changes," he said.

Death penalty was abolished in 2006 when former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed a law repealing Republic Act 7659, which imposes capital punishment on certain heinous crimes.

Charter Change

Aside from the reviving capital punishment, Alvarez said Charter Change will also be a priority of the Duterte administration.

However, the mode for amending Constitution has yet to be discussed.

"The [incoming] President is calling for a Con con (Constitutional convention), but we have to remember that there are three modes of revising the Constitution: the Constitutional convention, constituent assembly and the people's initiative," he said.

Alvarez said Duterte wants to have a plebsicite on the proposed changes to the Constitution conducted in 2019, the same time as the midterm elections.

Source: gmanetwork.com, May 18, 2016

Mayor Beng to leave death penalty issue to lawmakers

Reelected Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar did not make clear whether she will support or not the imposition of the death penalty being pushed by incoming president Rodrigo Duterte particularly for heinous crimes.

"Although the Catholic church is against death penalty, per se always pro-life, what kind of justice must be given to our people? Will it be death or life imprisonment?" Climaco told reporters in her first press conference at City Hall Monday since the May 9 election.

"So we will leave it up to our justices, to the lawmakers to really see what is a very good, corrective measure for the violators of the law," she said.

Citing Filipino citizens who commit crimes in other countries, the mayor said they are meted with death penalty, but those foreigners who violate Philippine laws are just deported back to their countries.

"That is why, this is not a strong deterrent particularly for foreign violators of the law to conduct crimes in the Philippines," she added.

Climaco further said that personally, she does not think she would bein a capacity to judge for herself "as there is always room for the person for corrective measure."

"In that case, again, without washing my hands as a local chief executive, we will abide by the product of the law," she said.

Climaco, meantime, said they will strongly support Duterte's proposals on curfew for minors and liquor ban in public places.

"How it is to be translated in the form of the law that will guide all local chief executives and the local government? We will just await the issuance of the law and I believe once it is enacted or once the executive order from president comes out, it will always be in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines without violating the rights of the people. We will just abide," she explained.

The camp of Duterte had earlier said the curfew is principally forminors, unescorted, past 10:00 p.m. It will not include minorswith their parents or guardians.

It was also made clear that the liquor ban in Davao City, which prohibits establishments from selling alcohol after 1 a.m., will only be ineffect in public places.

Aside from the curfew and liquor ban, Duterte also imposed a karaoke ban and a no-smoking policy in public areas in Davao City.

Source: Zamboanga Today, May 18, 2016

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