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Nalzaro: Plan to resurrect the death penalty
« on: May 24, 2008, 07:44:29 AM »

By Bobby Nalzaro

DEATH penalty was provided for in the 1973 Constitution, and it was carried out using an electric chair. But the 1987 Constitution abolished the death penalty, with the provision that, “unless for compelling reasons, involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it.”

After thorough deliberation by Congress, a death penalty law, or Republic Act 7659, was passed in 1994 specifically for heinous crimes such as kidnapping, murder and drug trafficking.It was implemented through lethal injection.

Congress at that time considered death penalty a deterrent to criminality. But studies showed that death penalty was mainly imposed only on the poorest, least educated and most vulnerable members of society.

Former president Joseph Estrada ordered the execution of seven death row convicts but strong opposition from the Catholic Church forced him to hold back. When President Arroyo took over in 2001, she declared a moratorium on executions following a strong lobby from the Church and the human rights group Amnesty International.

Before her visit to Rome two years ago, Arroyo’s allies in the Congress rushed the passage of the law that abolished the death penalty as a gift to the Pope. The Philippines was the 25th country in the Asia-Pacific region to end capital punishment in law or practice.

But with the recent crime incidents, like the one in Cabuyao, Laguna where bank robbers mercilessly killed eight bank personnel and a depositor, some senators are pushing for the re-imposition of the death penalty.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said he would like criminals convicted for crimes related to drug trafficking and multiple homicide penalized with death. He is getting the support of Sens. Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson and Bong Revilla.

If you ask me, I would say our legislators are like dancing the Sinulog. Urong-sulong. One step forward, two steps backward. I understand that some of those who voted for the abolition of the death penalty are still in Congress. Now they want to re-impose it? Don’t they know how much Congress spends to pass a law?

If Congress revives the death penalty law, we will be criticized by the Catholic Church and the international community. And do you think President Arroyo will sign a death penalty bill into law? Not within her administration.

In the first place, President Arroyo and Congress should not have abolished the death penalty. She should have let the death penalty law sleep during her term if she did not want to implement it being a religious and God fearing person.

With that, whoever will be the next president would still have had the option of implementing it. Under our Constitution, the President has the power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons after the final judgment of conviction.

Again, according to some senators, there is now a need to re-impose the death penalty. They can be compared to a man who married a woman, divorced her and then married her again. Matod pa sa mga b***t, “mabuang ko.”


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