'Death penalty backers banking on emotions, not facts'

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2016 11:41 PM

MANILA - A human rights activist said those in favor of death penalty is banking on the emotions of victims of crimes to justify the push to reinstate death penalty in the country.

Speaking on ANC, Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch said there is not enough factual evidence to show that death penalty can prevent crimes.

"We're still waiting for statistics for the proponents of the bill to show to us, for instance, that there's an upsurge of crime fueled by drug use, which is the usual argument by those who are pushing for this bill but we haven't seen any significant data or statistics that would convincingly show that," he said.

This is also the reason why backers of death penalty bills are banking on people's emotions instead to gain support for their cause.

"This is why the proponents of death penalty are making this a very emotional issue, citing, for instance, cases of crime supposedly related to drug use or heinous crimes supposedly related to drug use but they haven't shown data that would support the assertion that death penalty is a deterrent to crime," Conde said.

"The death penalty is a highly-charged political issue that legislators and politicians often latch on to as their advocacy because it's a very popular issue. People respond to the death penalty with this very highly emotional response," he added.

According to Conde, the death penalty is a very popular issue because of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"This push for the death penalty arises from the popularity of President Rodrigo Duterte; so as long as he's extremely popular, we expect politicians and lawmakers to follow his lead," he said.

Conde admitted that it will be difficult for those who are against death penalty to convince pro-death penalty lawmakers.

"If there is enough groundswell of dissent against these death penalty proposals in Congress, certainly all those people who did not vote for President Duterte could make a dent in the argument against death penalty, but you know, the death penalty is not a very popular issue among advocates," he said.

"It would take a lot of work, to be honest, for those against the death penalty, to sway the legislators to not push this bill," Conde added.


Meanwhile, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) spokesperson Arsenio Evangelista reiterated that the death penalty will prevent crimes.

"It will deter. For us, it is the biggest weapon now for crime prevention, deterrence. When it comes to data, pro-life is saying that it is not a deterrent. It is a deterrent on a very high percentage," he said.

"Precisely, the absence of death penalty will increase extra-judicial killings because for us, death penalty is a retribution for acts being done to victims... The certainty of death will create fear among would-be criminals," Arsenio added.

Last week, the proposal to reimpose the death penalty has advanced to the plenary of the Lower House, 10 years after it was abolished.

Voting 12-6-1, the House justice committee approved the committee report of the substitute bill of the bills restoring the death penalty.

The vote of the mother committee came after an earlier vote of 12-5 adopting the subcommittee report of the same. - with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News