Taguiwalo: Death penalty 'cruel, degrading, and inhuman'
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo has nothing but strong words against the proposed revival of the death penalty, describing it as "cruel, degrading, and inhuman."
Taguiwalo on Tuesday, February 7, submitted a position paper to Senate justice committee chairperson Richard Gordon as senators and representatives of government agencies tackled the measure at the committee level.
Reiterating her stand, Taguiwalo, a human rights victim during Martial Law herself, said the death penalty is against an individual's right to life and violates the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights and the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"This right should not be disregarded, regardless of an individual's needs, especially since empirical evidence shows that 'criminality' is determined by a number of factors including poverty, lack of education, marginal economic opportunities, even disability," she said.
Slow pace of justice
Reviving the death penalty, added Taguiwalo, would affect the poor given the slow pace of justice in the country.
She cited a survey by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in 2004, which said that 70% of over 1,200 inmates on death row earned below minimum wage or less than P10,000 a month. Compare that to the P30,000 acceptance fee usually charged by a lawyer before defending a person in a criminal case at the lowest court.
Taguiwalo also said the FLAG study revealed that 71% of the cases penalized with death were wrongfully imposed.
"The use of capital punishment also extinguishes the offender's hopes to reform and engage in rehabilitation. It highlights the permanency of their offense, instead of their capacity to change for the better through the process of restorative justice which would enable them to connect, reconcile, and learn from their offense," she explained.
Reviving the death penalty is among the priority bills of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The House of Representatives has started the plenary debates on the proposal. – Rappler.com