MANILA - President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday defended his push for the death penalty in a speech before newly elected local government officials from General Santos City and Sarangani Province.
During the oath-taking ceremony, Duterte, who prefers hanging to lethal injection as the mode of execution, said the reimposition of death penalty is not meant as a deterrent but as retribution.
"Hindi 'yan to deter. Iyung death penalty to me is the retribution. Magbayad ka sa ginawa mo," Duterte said.
The president-elect also said he will support members of the police and the military who will kill criminals.
"Sa trabaho n'yo, kahit makapatay kayo ng isang libo, sabihin ninyo, utos ni Duterte. Period. I will deal with everybody. Ako na," Duterte told a crowd of local government officials.
Duterte's call for the reimposition of death penalty has been met with stiff opposition from civil society.
Reacting to Duterte's repeated statements that he will revive the death penalty to curb the rising criminality in the country, a Jesuit priest leading a coalition of organizations warned that capital punishment is "biased against the poor."
Rev. Fr. Silvino Borres, president of the Coalition Against Death Penalty, said that it would be too risky to allow capital punishment given the "imperfections" in the country's criminal justice system.
“Death row was rife with stories about how people were not given adequate and competent legal counsel during their trial,” said Borres in a report by CBCP News.
While Borres praised the incoming president's advocacy against illegal drugs and crime, he insisted that several studies indicate that the death penalty does not deter crime.
The same conclusion was shared by global organization Amnesty International.
According to Amnesty International Philippines, there are no studies that prove that capital punishment is a deterrent to crime even in developed countries such as the US and Canada.
"Comparing states with death penalty and without, walang substantial difference," said AI Philippines chairperson Ritzlee Santos III.
Meanwhile, opposition to the death penalty has found an advocate in one of Duterte's Cabinet secretaries.
Incoming Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that death penalty, under the circumstances the country is in, will be prone to the victimization of the poor.
"Death penalty under this condition of massive poverty, of unequal distribution of wealth, would read down to victimization of many poor, innocent people while the rich, the people with connections will be able to escape that kind of sentencing," she explained.
Duterte would need Congress to enact a law reviving death penalty.