Death penalty debate should be revived after Maguindanao massacre verdict: Marcos


Posted at Dec 20 2019 04:03 PM

MANILA - Discussions about the reimposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes should be revived, a lawmaker said Friday, a day after members of a political clan and several others were convicted for the brutal killing of 58 people in Maguindanao in 2009.

Capital punishment "should be given serious thought for crimes of an unimaginable level of brutality and inhumanity, as in the Maguindanao massacre," said Sen. Imee Marcos, who opposed the death penalty when she was still Ilocos Norte representative.

"The law is an organic, living thing that must respond to our extraordinary times," she said in a statement.

Marcos is the daughter of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, whose strongman rule was marked by extrajudicial killings, human rights violations and the plunder of state coffers. 

In a statement, the lawmaker said the current Revised Penal Code "does not fathom the horror suffered by the relatives of the brutally murdered victims." 

A total of 58 people, including 32 journalists, were mauled and slain execution style on a hilly area by an empty road in Maguindanao town on Nov. 23, 2009. Their bodies were dumped in a grave hurriedly dug by an excavator. 

Death penalty "should be limited to 'very exceptional exceptions' like large-scale drug trafficking and plunder" and should not cover minors, the senator said.

The reimposition of death penalty was among President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign promises, but stiff opposition from lawmakers and several sectors hindered its passage in predominantly Catholic Philippines.

In February, the House of Representatives withdrew a bill that imposed death penalty against drug convicts. 

Five months later, Duterte renewed his pitch for the revival of the death penalty. House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano - the chief executive's former running mate - said the chamber will hold a 'very healthy' debate on the death penalty bill.

Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, Duterte's first appointed police chief, urged his colleagues to tackle death penalty in January 2020.

The death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 2006, during the time of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a Duterte ally.