'With crime rate down, why restore death penalty?'

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2017 04:04 PM

MANILA - There is no compelling reason to revive the death penalty when, according to the national police, crime rates have gone down, a government commission on women argued at a Senate hearing Tuesday.

Janica Brigola, planning officer III of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), noted that Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa, in several interviews, claimed that "there is a very significant decrease in rape incidents and a downward trend in the so-called focused crimes."

Dela Rosa has also affirmed that "the overall index crime rate right now has gone down, including those which are considered heinous," she added. 

Brigola said the Constitution provides for the revival of death penalty as an "exception," and that given this situation painted by statements from the country's top cop and supported by the PCW, there is no need to break the general rule which is prohibition of the death penalty. 

"In the Constitution, imposing the death penalty is just an exception; the general rule is that it is prohibited, and we can only entertain the exception if there is a compelling reason," she said.

"Given these various statistics given by the PNP, there’s actually no compelling reason present, so the condition is not satisfied. So, we have to resort to the general rule that death penalty is prohibited," she added.

Brigola also revealed five other reasons why the PCW is against the revival of the death penalty. She said that the agency "believes in restorative justice, not punitive justice," and also disagrees with the argument that death penalty is an effective crime deterrent.

She added, the imposition of the death penalty poses a danger in dealing with youth offenders, considering that a bill seeking to lower the age of criminal liability to 9 is pending at the Lower House.

"We are putting children actually at risk of being sentenced to death in the event that both bills are passed, in utter violation of the rights of the child as enshrined both in our national laws and other international instruments, like the Convention of the Rights of the Child," said Brigola.

When carried out, the PCW said the death penalty is irreversible and "will deny wrongly convicted persons of the due restoration of their freedom." 

They also asserted that imposing the death penalty in the Philippines will pose "serious difficulties" for the government when negotiating with other countries where overseas Filipino workers may be on death row.

The Senate on Tuesday opened discussions on the proposals to revive the death penalty, which was abolished by the Arroyo administration in 2006. In the lower house, a similar bill has advanced to the plenary.