Atienza: Bringing back death penalty utter waste of time

BUHAY Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza on Sunday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to drop his push to bring back the death penalty via lethal injection, calling it “an exercise in futility and an utter waste of time.”

“The President won’t get any satisfaction, even if his allies in Congress steamroller the passage of a new law reviving death sentences. The President still won’t see any judicial executions while he is in office, so he might as well give it up,” Atienza said.

“Besides, the President’s wish to put convicts to death via a medically induced coma is no longer possible,” Atienza, a pro-life crusader, said.

Sodium thiopental – the first of the three-drug concoction used to deprive convicts of life and brain function in lethal injection – is no longer legally available, according to Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila.

Due to humanitarian concerns, Atienza said the entire world has stopped producing and trading in the powerful anesthetic used to render convicts unconscious, before they are given a paralytic agent and a heart stopper.

The Bureau of Corrections put seven convicts to death via lethal injection from 1999 to 2000, during Joseph Estrada’s administration.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who succeeded Estrada, declared a moratorium on executions and Congress eventually abolished the death penalty in 2006. A robust constitutional challenge is guaranteed to stall for years the performance of any new law restoring the death penalty, Atienza said.

“Moreover, due to reviews and appeals, the average death sentence normally takes around six years for it to become final and executory.

Thus, there’s absolutely no chance the sitting President will see a death verdict getting carried out,” Atienza said.

“Congress should forget about the death penalty. The best criminologists around the world have long established that executions do not serve any purpose that is not already being served by prolonged imprisonment,” Atienza said.

Atienza urged the administration to direct all its attention and effort on suppressing the coronavirus pandemic, and on revitalizing the national economy that collapsed by 16.5 percent in the second quarter.

“Otherwise, the deteriorating public health disaster, coupled with extreme economic difficulties, might advance into a political crisis that the administration surely does not want,” Atienza warned.