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Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat of the Lone District here said the reimposition of the death penalty is "a backward step without moral necessity," and urged the public to join the call to stop hasty moves by the House of Representatives in reviving the law.
Baguilat cited the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' firm stand that the abolition of the death penalty by the 1986 Constitution was "a very big step toward a practical recognition of the dignity of every human being created in the image and likeness of God, and the value of human life from its conception to its natural end."
"Thus to reimpose the death penalty would mean a backward step without moral necessity," he said.
In 2006, the capital punishment was suspended by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with the support of a Congress noted to be overwhelmingly supportive of the tenet that life has value.
Baguilat, a member of the opposition bloc in Congress known as the "Magnificent 7," said the Constitution requires that there must be a compelling reason to reimpose the death penalty but that he finds "none."
He added that the better move today is to strengthen the justice system to make sure that justice is served quickly and that real criminals will go to jail.
"As it is, everybody is saying that the justice system is flawed. We need more reform to avoid wrongful convictions. Without reforms, the poor will again bear the consequence of the weakness and inconsistency in the application of the criminal justice system," the lawmaker said.
According to Baguilat, the plan to railroad passage of the death penalty is a grave cause for concern considering that it had already been established that imposing the capital punishment would not deter proliferation of crime.
"We need to strengthen [the justice system]first to make a more lasting impact on criminality. I have never believed in legislating this ultimate retribution," he said, adding that there is no credible data showing that the death penalty is a crime deterrent.
"That is why I am again appealing to my colleagues in Congress to not rush into passing such a bill and instead allow extensive and intelligent discussion," Baguilat said.
Apparently as part of the campaign against illegal drugs and criminality, the House majority led by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez remained resolute in immediately passing a law that will bring back the death penalty.
President Rodrigo Duterte has consistently said that he wanted the death penalty law as part of the package of measures to stop the proliferation of drugs and criminality.
"I have always said that I am supportive of the President's campaign against drugs and criminality. But there is the right way to do it and reimposing the death penalty, which will violate our international commitments, is not the right way," Baguilat pointed out.
Source: Manila Times, December 15, 2016
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