‘Death penalty only punishes the poor’
Though knowing that he is in the minority, Rep. Raul del Mar of Cebu City’s north district remains adamant about his opposition to plans of reimposing the death penalty.
During the interpellation and debate at the House of Representatives last Tuesday, Del Mar said death penalty is never the solution to address crimes.
“When death penalty was applied in the Philippines, was there any showing that it worked? There is no evidence that death penalty is more effective than for-life imprisonment,” he said.
Among the first bills filed by Congress this year was the reinstatement of death penalty.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said they are targeting to submit the bill to reinstate death penalty next month.
Legislators opposing the death penalty also pointed to the “conflict of interest” by proponents who lobbied to remove the inclusion of plunder in the list of crimes punishable by death.
In opposing the reinstatement of capital punishment or death penalty, Del Mar said it punishes only poor people who could not afford the best lawyers to defend them.
“Do you agree that the Philippine justice system is ill-equipped and severely flawed? Do you dispute the fact that most of those who end up in the death row had deficient defense because they were poor and had no money to get witnesses, pay good lawyers, or bribe judges?” he said.
The lawmaker said there is a possibility that innocent individuals will be subjected to death.
He said in the US, 68 percent of all death penalties were reversed either because the evidence was insufficient or illegally admitted.
“Once an innocent person is put to death, is it not an act that can never be reversed? Bad enough if an innocent person is jailed but at least he is still alive when the wrong is corrected,” he said.
Del Mar described the death penalty as “barbaric, antiquated, and regressive.”
He said at least 105 countries had rejected it and several religious denominations also denounced it as policy.
As a country whose population is mostly Catholic, del Mar said the faithful believe in retribution, but not by taking human life.
“The ‘eye-for-an-eye’ injunction in the Old Testament has long been replaced by the ‘turn-the-other-cheek’ advice in the New Testament,” Del Mar said.
“Catholics and other Christians believe in repentance and the capacity of sinners to reform. The death penalty totally rejects that possibility,” he said.
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