America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Philippines: Duterte wants to restore death penalty by hanging

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to reintroduce death penalty "by hanging" in the country as part of his relentless fight against crime.

Speaking to reporters in Davao City Sunday night, Duterte said he would ask lawmakers to approve the death penalty for heinous crimes, such as drug-related offenses and rape.

"What I would do is urge Congress to restore [the] death penalty by hanging, especially if you use drugs," Duterte said.

The tough-talking Davao City mayor said he would also give the government security forces "shoot-to kill" orders against those who will resist arrest violently.

"I said if you resist the arrest, tapos you offer a violent resistance, my order to the police or the military is to shoot-to-kill," he said.

The 1987 Constitution restored the death penalty for henious crimes under then-President Fidel V. Ramos, but it carried out 7 times under then-President Joseph Estrada.

Estrada's successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, repealed the death penalty law in 2006.

Duterte has vowed a "bloody war" against criminals, particularly drug dealers, as he sought to bring to the entire country the anti-crime drive that, he said, has made Davao City attractive to investors.

During his campaign for the presidency, Duterte had vowed to "fatten the fish" in Manila Bay with the dead bodies of criminals.

When asked why he was hell-bent on wiping out criminals off the country's streets, Duterte explained: "We have a society now where obedience to the law is really a choice, an option only."

Source: Manila Times, May 17, 2016

'Restore death penalty by hanging'

Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday that he will ask Congress to restore capital punishment, as he vowed to pursue his pledge to wage a devastating war on crime.

"What I would do is urge Congress to restore the death penalty by hanging," he told reporters.

"Rape, plus death of the victim, must be death penalty. Kidnapping with ransom, and then death of the victim, must be death penalty," he declared.

"Robbery with homicide with rape, double the hanging. After you hang them, there will be another ceremony for another time. Until the head is completely severed from the body. I would like that because I'm angry."

In a news briefing late on Sunday, Mr Duterte said he would also give security forces "shoot-to-kill" orders against organised criminals or those who resist arrest violently.

"If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police (will be) to shoot to kill," he said.

He named 3 former Davao police chiefs - who helped him prosecute a brutal anti-crime campaign in the southern city - as possible candidates for head of the 160,000-strong national police force.

The 71-year-old Mr Duterte built his reputation on having transformed Davao - during his reign as mayor for more than 3 decades - from being a battleground of vigilante groups and communist partisans to one of the safest cities in the Philippines.

The body count in his brutal campaign against crime, however, exceeded 1,000, and Mr Duterte himself admitted having had a hand in some death squad-style summary executions.

The Philippines' human rights commission and Catholic Church said yesterday that they would oppose any effort to restore the death penalty.

"Our current position is that the death penalty is contrary to human dignity and human rights," said human rights commission chief Luis Martin Gascon.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz, head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, said the church in the Catholic-majority country "would not stand for it".

"The state did not give life to anyone, so it cannot take life from anyone. That is clear," he said.

Turning to another cornerstone pledge, Mr Duterte repeated that he would pursue peace talks with Marxist guerillas and would offer, as an olive branch, government roles to the Communist Party of the Philippines, including its exiled founder Jose Maria Sison.

He said he was offering the labour, social welfare, environment and agrarian reform ministries to the communists as part of the effort to end one of the longest-running insurgencies in the world.

Source: straitstimes.com, May 17, 2016

Senators ready to start debate on death penalty

Senators yesterday said they are ready to start the debates on the proposal of presumptive president Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's to reinstate the death penalty especially for high profile drug lords and criminals.

Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara said he is willing and ready to listen to committee level discussions on the proposal, which he expects to be one of the top agenda of the incoming 17th Congress.

"We are willing to listen to the debate on both sides but what is crucial really is we improve law enforcement capabilities and improve our justice system," Angara said in a text message.

Re-elected Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said he is fully supportive of the revival of the death penalty especially for big-time criminals.

Lacson, however, said he rejects public executions for these hardened criminals since that would be socially unacceptable.

"I'm fully supportive of the revival of the death penalty especially for big time drug lords and heinous crime offenders, but not in the manner being suggested such as by hanging," Lacson said in a text message.

"Aside from being inhuman, I don't want out people, much less our children to witness medieval age-like executions even of the most notorious criminals," he also said.

Source: tempo.com.ph, May 17, 2016

Majority of polled INQUIRER.net readers favor death penalty

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
Most INQUIRER.net readers were in favor of reviving the death penalty in the Philippines, according to the results of INQUIRER.net's Facebook and Twitter polls.

INQUIRER.net on its social media pages asked netizens on Monday evening whether or not they were in favor of bringing back capital punishment in the country.

In the Facebook poll, 83 % of 1,434 votes were in favor of bringing back the death penalty while only 17 % opposed it.

On Twitter, 67 % of 3,474 favored the revival of the death penalty while 33 % expressed opposition.

On Monday, presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte said the death penalty must be re-imposed during his administration to deliver his promise of cracking down criminality and illegal drugs in the country.

Duterte said he wanted to restore the death penalty for drug-related crimes, rape, robbery, car-jacking, carnapping or vehicle robbery, and plunder.

Human rights groups and the Catholic Church have said that they would block any move to restore the death penalty in the country.

But Duterte was firm in his stand, saying he was ready to stake his life and honor and even the presidency to fulfill his vow of ending crime within the first 3 to 6 months of his administration.

Source: inquirer.net, May 17, 2016

Restoration of capital punishment: Time for debate?

Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte believes Filipinos need an iron-fist style of leadership and "to rid the country of criminals" he said he is open to the restoration of death penalty.

It looks like debates on the matter will be revived during the 17th Congress, according to Duterte's ally Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III.

"What is important is that we get to know the positions of the lawmakers on the issue. And all of us should be ready for pressure from outside of Congress, there are groups in favor and there are groups who are against death penalty," said Pimentel in a phone interview with CNN Philippines.

Anti-crime watchdog Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) supports the idea that imposing death penalty is crucial in deterring crime.

It has been a decade since former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed a law repealing the death penalty.

VACC chairman Dante Jimenez is hopeful capital punishment will be restored under the Duterte presidency.

"That will be the ultimate fear of criminals, you know. 'Yan ang pinaka-kinakatakutan ng mga criminals," Jimenez told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: That will be the ultimate fear of criminals, you know. That is what criminals are scared of the most.]

However, sociologist Clifford Sorita said Filipinos are still inclined to oppose death penalty, despite the people's clamor for effective crime management.

Sorita explained the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation and the belief promotes humane or less non-vindictive punishment.

He claimed studies show there is no direct correlation between having death penalty and criminality.

"Pag pinag-aralan mo maigi, minsan, ang kriminalidad iba ang ugat na maski sige takutin mo ng death penalty, mangyayari at mangyayari pa rin iyon," Sorita said.

[Translation: If you take a closer look, sometimes, criminality has varying roots that even when you scare them off through death penalty, the inevitable will still happen.]

For his part, Pimentel is sure the issue will get its day in the Senate, though he said he cannot predict how the vote will go, since there is no prevailing opinion on the matter as of yet.

Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. yesterday branded as "divisive" to presumptive President-elect Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte's call for national unity his planned re-imposition of death penalty "by hanging" especially on drug-related crimes.

While he did not categorically say that he is against the restoration of death penalty, Belmonte sought to strengthen the country's criminal justice system first.

"A very divisive issue in the House," Belmonte, vice president of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said in an interview after Duterte pushed for the revival of death penalty for heinous crimes including robbery with rape. Earlier, Belmonte rejected death penalty in response to the proposal of Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto III to revive capital punishment for drug trafficking and rape with murder.

"It won't fly because it is not the answer to the rising incidence of crimes in the country," Belmonte, a lawyer, said in a previous interview.

Nevertheless, Belmonte, who vowed to run for the speakership of the incoming 17th Congress, reiterated his cooperation and unity with Duterte to push his programs and legislative agenda.

"We will be supportive of the Duterte administration," said Belmonte who earlier vowed to establish strong support to the "super majority" of Duterte allies in the House of Representatives.

Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza echoed Belmonte's statement that the proposal of Duterte will not be good to his call for national unity.

"Huwag muna siyang (Duterte) magbigay ng priority sa death penalty. This is a divisive issue. Death penalty will be disuniting issue that will hamper the beginning of his administration," said Atienza.

"Ang national attention will focus on this issue. Hindi maganda sa pagsisimula ng kanyang administration," said Atienza.

Atienza also stressed that the absence of death penalty law has no connection to the rising criminality in the country.

"There's no doubt whatsoever about the breakdown in the country's peace and order situation, however we don't see the re-imposition of the death penalty as an effective antidote to this problem," Atienza pointed out.

Republic Act (RA) No. 7659 or the Death Penalty Law was abolished in 1986 during the term of former President Corazon Aquino.

It was revived by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1993, and was suspended again in 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Source: journal.com.ph, May 17, 2016

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