Candidates dared to bare stand on death penalty

February 23, 2019
Lito Atienza

A VETERAN solon dared senatorial candidates to tell the public their stand on the death penalty.

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said people want to hear candidates’ exact position on the controversial proposal to bring back the death penalty.

Atienza likewise challenged those running for congressional districts to bare their opinion on whether or not death penalty should be reconsidered.

“Voters deserve to know the clear-cut stance of every Senate and House aspirant – whether they are for or against the return of capital punishment,” Atienza said.

“It would be unfair – even deceitful – for candidates to court the support of voters who are opposed to the death penalty, only to betray them later on,” he added.

In March 2017, the House of Representatives, voting 217 in favor, 54 against and with one abstention, passed on third and final reading a bill reinstating the death penalty for drug-related offenses.

The bill however has run aground in the Senate because the majority of senators do not agree.

Atienza fought against the passage of the House bill reviving judicial executions on the grounds that they violate the sanctity of human life.

Atienza introduced a substitute bill that seeks to impose the new penalty of “qualified reclusion perpertua” on the worst criminal offenders.

The penalty is equal to imprisonment for 40 years, or until the convict reaches 70 years old, without the benefit of early release.

The results of a Social Weather Stations survey in March 2018 showed that less than 40 percent of Filipinos believe that the death penalty should be the punishment for people convicted of grave drug-related offenses.

Among those who rejected the death penalty, 42 percent invoked religious reasons for opposing it, 21 percent believe it is possible for offenders to reform, 14 percent believe in alternatives to executions, 10 percent cited the country’s corrupt and unreliable criminal justice system, 7 percent mentioned humane reasons, and 3 percent disputed the policy itself.

“The certainty of capture and punishment is the best deterrence to crime, more than the penalty itself. And the modern world has come to accept that prolonged imprisonment is just as effective,” Atienza said.

Congress revived the death penalty for 13 heinous crimes in 1993, only to abolish it in 2006 due to mounting calls for junking it.