death penalty

Cebu lawyers oppose death penalty after SONA 2020

Lorraine Ecarma
The lawyers call on the Duterte administration to work first on fixing the current justice system in the country

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) Cebu “strongly opposes” President Rodrigo Duterte’s desire to reinstate the death penalty in the Philippines, calling the move “anti-poor.”

“Although the reimposition of death penalty is intended to deter crimes and save children from the dangers of illegal drugs, NUPL Cebu believes that reviving the law is another anti-poor policy that would selectively target millions of helpless Filipinos, as observed in the ongoing war on drugs of the present administration and the selective enforcement of laws amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” NUPL Cebu said in a statement to media.

The group also called on the Duterte administration to work first on fixing the current justice system in the country.

“NUPL Cebu would rather urge the President to call for the fixing of the justice and law enforcement systems first to assure the fair and impartial investigation and disposition of cases before implementing a legislation that is necessarily cruel and inhuman,” their statement reads.

During SONA 2020: The view from Cebu, a roundtable discussion organized by Rappler about Duterte’s 5th SONA, lawyer King Anthony Perez, NUPL Cebu spokesperson, described the plan to bring back capital punishment as “unspeakably regressive.”

Citing the arrest of the Cebu 8 and the disappearance of Elena Tijamo, Perez also said Cebu’s realities run contrary to Duterte’s assurance that he would abide by his obligation to fight for human rights. 

Early June, 7 activists in Cebu protesting against the passage of the Anti-Terror Bill – now a law – along with one bystander, were arrested by the police for alleged quarantine violations. Cebu City was then under general community quarantine (GCQ). 

Critics pointed out that police broke the 1989 University of the Philippines (UP)-Department of National Defense Accord by scaling the walls of UP Cebu, in front of which the protesters were demonstrating, and began rounding up students who entered the university for refuge. 

Later known all over the country as the Cebu 8, the protesters gained massive support nationwide and were soon released without bail.

Also in the same month, Elena Tijamo, a program coordinator for the Farmers’ Development Center (FARDEC) was taken by armed men from her home in Barangay Kapingganon, Bantayan in Cebu. Over a month since her abduction, the police are yet to identify possible suspects and motives for Tijamo’s enforced disappearance. –