The ‘RightMED’ to stopping crime

April 05,2017 - 09:51 PM

My objection to the death penalty is based on the idea that this is a democracy, and in a democracy the government is me, and if the government kills somebody then I’m killing somebody. —Steve Earle, American folk singer

When the 17th Congress approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 1, or the death penalty bill, crimes listed as punishable by death were mostly related to drugs.

The bill didn’t cover rape, murder, plunder and other heinous crimes. Article 3 Section 19 of the Philippine Constitution states, “Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading, or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.”

Our Constitution doesn’t limit our Congress to enact and pass a bill reinstating capital punishment, but why would they limit their death penalty bill to drug-related crimes and not heinous crimes? Your guess is as good as mine.

Proponents of the death penalty bill believe it will lower our crime rates and strike fear in the hearts of criminals, but there’s no solid evidence proving beyond reasonable doubt that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime.

The death penalty bill is an offshoot of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and the escalation of that war gave rise to so-called extrajudicial killings (EJKs) which are being roundly condemned by rights groups and the European Union.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) along with pro-life advocates have started the thankless task of recording both deaths caused by legitimate police operations and vigilante executions that rights groups believe were state-sanctioned.

These killings grossly violate Article 3, Section 1 of our Constitution which states that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of laws.”

While there were those who said they felt safer now, there are also others who fear that the war on drugs have gone too far as shown by the EJKs.

President Duterte’s instructions to police to kill those resisting arrest can be misconstrued by law enforcers as an open license to kill drug suspects.

This caused a lot of people to be afraid of the possibility that their homes can be raided by police “in pursuit of criminal suspects” particularly suspected drug dealers.

How do the police determine the guilt of those suspects? Nobody knows because the suspects die even before they are jailed and charged in court.
And now comes the death penalty bill which President Duterte’s allies think will end the drug menace in the country once and for all. The bill they think will be the “RightMED” to the crimes occurring in our streets.

Their thinking clearly shows just how our government finds answers to our problems. They just think what they “feel” would be the answer to these problems without even thinking twice about it.

Certain laws in our country and even international laws protecting the rights of suspects will be violated if the death penalty bill is signed into law.

Article 2, Section 11 in our Constitution guarantees that “the state values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.” That guarantee will be removed once the death penalty bill becomes law.

The Philippines is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 of that declaration states that “no one should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Death is perhaps the cruelest punishment of all, and it violates that rights declaration to the letter.

Granted that what President Duterte said about the drug menace is true, still the Filipino people should take time to ponder and evaluate whether the solutions being proposed by the President are really needed at this time or any other.

The drug menace is there — no question — but the answers they are proposing may be beyond what is needed. Would the killings alone stop the drug menace? Isn’t it the government’s task to think for the welfare and betterment of its people?

Should the government further refine the justice system to make it responsive to the challenges of the times? The current leadership should think of ways to solve the country’s other pressing problems.

The country needs progress and reforms, which should be felt by the next generation and succeeding generations. In the case of President Duterte, he thinks the death penalty bill is the “RightMed” to solving crime.

If the bill is signed into law, can I honestly and safely say that the government is protecting me?
Niño Philip Fernandez, BSEd Physics-Math 3 student, University of San Carlos

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TAGS: crime, death, democracy, objection, penalty, RightMED, stopping

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