SWS survey finds 'minority support' for death penalty revival in drug-related crimes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2018 05:18 PM | Updated as of Oct 10 2018 06:48 PM

Activists holds placards during a protest rally against the passing of the death penalty bill, at the gate of House of the Representatives in Quezon City, March 7, 2017. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters/File 


MANILA - Up to a third of Filipinos favor the revival of the death penalty as punishment for various drug-related crimes as more still preferred life imprisonment as the most severe penalty, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed Wednesday.

The survey showed that in six out of seven serious crimes linked to drugs such as manufacture, importation, and sale of illicit substances, "33 percent or less demand the death penalty," the polling firm said. 

More than half of the respondents still preferred life imprisonment as punishment for these crimes, it showed. 

"For all these crimes, the survey found only minority support for the death penalty," SWS said. 

Rape under the influence of illegal drugs proved to be the only exception, with 47 percent of respondents saying those who commit this crime deserve death as punishment. 

"When you put the options of 40 years, 20 years and life, then you don’t get a large number for the death penalty for any of the crimes linked to illegal drugs, usually you get at most one-third, that to me is the strongest finding of the survey," said SWS president Mangahas said.

The survey was commissioned by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and released on the commemoration of the 16th World Day Against Death Penalty. 

The SWS also found that "majority of Filipinos are in favor of the status quo as regards the Constitutional prohibition of the death penalty," with 54 percent of respondents in agreement (30 percent strongly agreed and 24 percent somewhat agreed) and 30 percent in disagreement (9 percent somewhat agreed and 21 percent strongly agreed).

The nationwide survey was conducted from March 22 to 27 with face-to-face interviews with 2,000 respondents aged 15 and above, SWS President Mahar Mangahas said. 

The Duterte administration has been pushing for the revival of the death penalty to deter heinous crimes. 

The House of Representatives approved a bill on final reading while counterpart measures are pending at the Senate, but the proposal is facing fierce opposition from the influential Catholic church. 

The Philippines was the first Asian country to abolish death penalty in 1987, but it was reinstated under President Fidel Ramos in response to increasing crime rates. It was again abolished under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006.

CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit reiterated the commission's opposition to the proposed death penalty revival. 

"At the end of the day, when we keep on keeping on, we are able to say that there is hope for all, there is hope for life and hope for the Filipino people," Gomez-Dumpit said.

The survey also showed that sectors that people trust to respect human rights are teachers, church leaders, soldiers, doctors, human rights advocates, barangay leaders, judges, police officers, lawyers, and prosecutors. 

Businessmen and politicians are, meanwhile, the least trusted to respect human rights. 

Almost 96 percent of Filipinos surveyed also agreed that “only God has the right to take life away.” Some 56 percent of Filipinos agreed that an innocent person might be punished wrongly, but 30 percent disagreed.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of respondents agreed that most people on death row are poor people "who cannot afford a good lawyer," while 24 percent disagreed on this point. 

On death penalty as restorative justice, a majority (64 percent) agreed and a fifth disagreed that "punishing a criminal with death penalty would provide some comfort to the family of the victim who was killed."

According to the CHR, the results of the survey will be shared with the Senate and the House of Representatives.

"We did say the same things but this time we go back backed up by our survey results. We will be happy to share this to our legislators," Gomez-Dumpit said.

-- with reports from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News