Davao group calls on solons to reject revival of death penalty

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 Feb) – A coalition of human rights groups, people’s organizations, and non-government organizations has called on congressmen to reject the revival of the death penalty in the country and urged the government to fix the justice system.

Members of the iDefend coalition during their rally in Davao City. MindaNews photo

Jo Moso, of the iDefend Davao coalition, said on Monday that members of the House of Representatives should not give in to the pressures imposed by Davao del Norte Rep. and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who threatened to strip lawmakers of their committee chairmanship if they would go against the reinstitution of the death penalty.

Moso urged legislators to listen to their conscience and follow principles and not the voice of the “supermajority” in the House that is allied to President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“We are hopeful of our congressmen that they will stand against the death penalty. We will not turn a blind eye on the proposal to revive the capital punishment,” he said.

Moso maintained that capital punishment will not be a deterrent to crime and suggested that the government fix the judicial system instead, rid it of corrupt prosecutors, and uphold restorative justice.

He also expressed alarm over how Alvarez takes advantage of his position to make the representatives vote for the reinstitution of death penalty.

“We, the human rights advocates, are calling on the government to fix the justice system, for example, expedite the dispensation of cases. (President Rodrigo) Duterte knows that prosecutors figure in anomalies. That should be looked into and not the death penalty,” he said.

The coalition – composed of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Kilusan Para sa Kilusang Demokrasya, Partido Manggagawa, Sentro, and Freedom from Death Coalition – held a protest Monday to call on congressmen to reject such proposal.

“Death penalty is a violation of a person’s right to life which is ‘non-derogable’, that is, they cannot be suspended even in a state of emergency. Article 4(2) of the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that no derogation to right to life is permitted. Philippines is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and has ratified ICCPR and is obliged to respect, protect and fulfill human rights,” the coalition said in a statement.

“Death penalty does not eliminate crime. When death penalty was implemented in 1994, crimes punishable by death persisted. As long as justice system fails to render fair and effective prosecution, occurrence of crime will continue and death penalty will not be a deterrent,” he said.

Moso also called on the Duterte administration to drop the campaign against drugs, which he said has resulted to extrajudicial killings.

“Even before, our coalition expresses concern over the killings. We are against extrajudicial killings. We are calling on the government to stop this and look into the drug cases,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)