Law dean raises 7 arguments vs death penalty

Law dean raises 7 arguments vs death penalty


Posted at May 17 2016 06:57 PM

MANILA – Amid growing clamor for the revival of the death penalty, a law expert on Tuesday gave at least seven arguments on why capital punishment could never work for the Philippines.

Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, claimed that there is no extensive study proving that death penalty deters people from committing crimes.

“Kung ang isang tao ay determinadong gumawa ng krimen, his thinking will always be ‘Malulusutan ko ito, hindi ako mahuhuli nito.’ He may be wrong but that is the way a person who is determined to commit a crime thinks,” Aquino told radio dzMM.

He said that it is the certainty of prosecution and not the actual penalty that discourages people from committing crimes.

Aquino asserted that the country cannot impose a punishment as irreversible as death because it has an imperfect judicial system, where judges can make mistakes and witnesses can tell lies.

The priest also argued that if capital punishment is restored, court judges may hesitate to convict individuals because of the gravity of the penalty.

“Kung may makikita silang kahit kaunting butas na pwedeng i-acquit yung akusado, ia-acquit nila dahil sa bigat ng parusang kamatayan,” he said. “On the other hand, if the penalty is reclusion perpetua then judges will be more disposed to convict if they are very convinced of the guilt of the accused.”

Aquino also noted that more countries are now repealing death penalty due to the belief that it only breeds a cycle of violence.

“Iilang estado na lang ang nagbibitay. The reason for that is because we realized that when we execute somebody, iyung violence na kino-codemn natin sa ginagawa ng isang criminal, iyun din ang ginagawa ng estado. It is violence for violence. There is no improvement at all,” he said.

He also claimed that government could no longer appeal for the lives of Filipino migrants in foreign death rows if it restores capital punishment. “Anong kalagayan nating humingi ng ganyang pabor kung tayo mismo ang nagbibitay sa mga convict natin dito?”

Aquino said he is unconvinced that killing convicted criminals would ease the pain of their victims’ loved ones.

“What will killing the offender do to their pain except perhaps to bring about some kind of vengeance? Pero ang tanong natin, gusto ba natin ang isang lipunan na kung saan umiiral iyung ganyan? Diba gusto natin iyung isang lipunan na kung may cycle ng violence, matatapos na iyung violence?” he reasoned.

Aquino also said the Philippines signed a protocol under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty.

Death penalty was first abolished by the 1987 Constitution, which reduced all death sentences to reclusion perpetua.

A series of high profile crimes under the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, however, created public impression that heinous crimes were on the rise. The Ramos administration reimposed the death penalty in December 1993 to address the issue.

In 2006, then President Gloria Arroyo signed a law repealing capital punishment just before she flew to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

Presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly plans to revive debates on the re-imposition of capital punishment to deliver on his campaign promise to fight crime relentlessly.

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