Int’l groups to Duterte gov’t: Death penalty isn’t effective

Voltaire Tupaz
The measure is one of the priority bills of President Rodrigo Duterte to help reduce crime in the Philippines

IN FAVOR. Members of the House subcommittee on judicial reforms vote in favor of the reimposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes on November 29. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Various human rights advocates and international organizations have added their voices to the growing clamor to stop the revival of the death penalty in the Philippines. (READ: A lethal mix: Death penalty and a ‘flawed’, corrupt justice system)

This came after the justice panel’s subcommittee on judicial reforms of the House of Representatives approved on Tuesday, November 29, a bill seeking to reimpose capital punishment for all heinous crimes. (READ: ‘Have a deadly Christmas’? House subpanel OKs death penalty bill)

“We categorically and absolutely oppose the death penalty in any and all circumstances and consider its use to be a violation of the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment,” about 67 signatories of a statement released on Monday, December 5, said.

“It cannot be emphasized enough that significant and overwhelming evidence shows that the death penalty is not effective at deterring crime at a greater rate than alternative forms of punishment,” the groups which include the human rights group Amnesty International said.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, one of the co-authors of House Bill Number 1, expects the House of Representatives to pass the death penalty bill on 3rd and final reading by December. (READ: Death penalty method? ‘Whatever is cheaper’ – Alvarez)

PH was leader in fight vs death penalty 

They argued that the Philippines is a state party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which means that it is obliged not to carry out executions within its jurisdiction and not to reintroduce the death penalty.

“The Philippines has always been viewed as a regional and global leader in the drive to abolish the death penalty around the world. Bringing back the death penalty into its laws would be an enormous step backward for the country,” they reminded members of Congress and the Duterte administration.

They warned authorities that the revival of the capital punishment “would affect the notions of justice and human rights in the country.”

The UN General Assembly has repeatedly adopted resolutions by overwhelming majorities, calling on all States that retain the death penalty to impose a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing it.

The groups are proposing that the government instead improve detection and investigation techniques, along with the capacity and the effectiveness of the justice system.    

The measure is one of the priority bills of President Rodrigo Duterte, who counts more than 250 congressmen as his allies.

Arroyo opposes death penalty

The Philippines was the first Asian country to abolish the death penalty under the 1987 Constitution, but it was reimposed during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos to address the rising crime rate.

During the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now Pampanga congresswoman, the Philippines signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. Capital punishment was eventually abolished under her watch in 2006.

Arroyo reiterated her position in a press conference on Monday, December 5.


List of groups and individuals opposing death penalty

Below is a list of 67 individuals and international groups that signed the statement against the reimposition of the death penalty in the Philippines.

  • Alcohol and Drug Foundation (Australia)
  • Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance Against Mining) (Philippines)
  • Amnesty International
  • Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (Russia)
  • Artikulo Tres Human Rights Alliance Inc (Philippines)
  • Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  • Ateneo de Davao Legal Aid Office (Philippines)
  • Bernice C. Mendoza, Lawyer (Philippines)
  • Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Canada)
  • Centro de Investigación Drogas y Derechos Humanos (CIDDH) (Peru)
  • Charles Hector, Human Rights Defender and Lawyer (Malaysia)
  • Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific
  • Colegio de Abogados y Abogadas de Puerto Rico
  • Collectif français Libérons Mumia
  • Commission on the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) (Indonesia)
  • Death Penalty Focus
  • Defend the Defenders (DTD) (Philippines)
  • Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)
  • FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
  • Focus on the Global South
  • Forum Droghe0Italia (Italy)
  • Housing Works (United States)
  • Human Rights Online (Philippines)
  • In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (Philippines)
  • Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (Indonesia)
  • Indonesian Legal Roundtable (Indonesia)
  • Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) (Indonesia)
  • International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP)
  • International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  • International Drug Policy Consortium
  • International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT)
  • Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Australia)
  • LBH Masyarakat (Indonesia)
  • M.Ravi, Human Rights Advocate (Singapore)
  • MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)(Malaysia)
  • Malaysian Bar
  • Mamamayan Tutol sa Bitay (Philippines)
  • MARUAH (The Working Group on an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism-Singapore)
  • Mary Jane N. Real, Women”s Human Rights Advocate (Philippines)
  • Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity, and Nationalism (MABINI)(Philippines)
  • NGO 4 Life (Montenegro)
  • Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit (Colombia)
  • Penington Institute (Australia)
  • Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
  • Philippine Human Rights Information Center PHILRIGHTS
  • Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK)(Philippines)
  • Reprieve (Australia)
  • Reseau d’Alerte et d’Intervention pour les Droits de l’Homme (RAIDH)
  • Ricardo Fernandez, Lawyer (Philippines) 
  • Romanian Harm Reduction Network (Romania)
  • Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) (Philippines)
  • Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)
  • Social Watch (Benin) 
  • Syndicat national des agents de la formation et de l’education du Niger (SYNAFEN)
  • Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (Taiwan)
  • TB/HIV Care Association (South Africa)
  • Todung Mulya Lubis, Lawyer (Indonesia)
  • Tyrell Haberkorn, Political and Social Change, Australian National University
  • Union contre la Co-infection VIH/Hépatites/Tuberculose (UNICO)(Ivory Coast) 
  • Vietnam Independent Civil Society Organizations Network (VICSON)
  • Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
  • WANEP GUINÉE-BISSAU (West Africa Network for Peacebuilding) (Guinea Bissau)
  • We Believe in Second Chances  (Singapore)
  • West Africa Drug Policy Network (Ghana)
  • World March of Women (Philippines)
  • Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (Zimbabwe)

Local human rights groups and some lawmakers had earlier objected to the reimposition of capital punishment in the country, saying it is not a deterrent to crime. Others plan to take to social media to protest the measure using the hashtag #StopBitayBill (Stop the Death Penalty Bill) – Rappler.com