“A government responsible for the extrajudicial killings of thousands of poor people and the summary executions of hundreds of critics and activists should not be trusted with the license to commit further murders – which the death penalty is – of helpless and hapless Filipinos.”
Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Filipino public not to give the Duterte administration more license to kill by strongly and actively opposing the planned re-imposition of the death penalty law for heinous crimes in the country.
In her message before the National Congress Against Death Penalty last Oct. 10, De Lima said death penalty could be used as a tool to decimate political dissenters and further unleash nationwide bloodbath victimizing Filipinos, especially the poor.
“A government responsible for the extrajudicial killings of thousands of poor people and the summary executions of hundreds of critics and activists should not be trusted with the license to commit further murders – which the death penalty is – of helpless and hapless Filipinos,” she said.
“Death penalty, in the hands of a vengeful and brutal regime, is tantamount to a license to kill those who are either actively critical of the policies (such as the activists and political dissenters), or, those who have become passive targets of its demagoguery (such as the poor drug suspects),” she said.
De Lima’s message entitled “Do not give a mass murderer more license to kill” was read by lawyer Gregorio Viterbo Jr. of the Free Legal Assistance Group during the National Congress Against Death Penalty in Ortigas Center, Quezon City.
In his 4th State of the Nation Address before a joint session of Congress last July 22, Mr. Duterte asked Senate and House leaders to prioritize the passage into law re-imposing death penalty on drug-related and heinous cases, including plunder.
Duterte and his allies in Congress have consistently pushed for the reinstatement of death penalty – which was brought back under then president Fidel Ramos’ administration but abolished anew under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
This 18th Congress, four senators have filed their respective bills seeking the revival of the death penalty for a slew of crimes while at least 15 bills restoring death penalty for heinous crimes were filed at the House of Representatives.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, maintained that no self-respecting society can formally tolerate the killing spree of its own people by its own government, which would be legitimized by the passage into law of a death penalty bill.
“The numbers of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) are appalling: more than 20,000 mostly poor drug suspects; 134 human rights defenders; 116 farmers and agrarian workers in Negros Island alone; 43 lawyers and judges; 13 journalists; and 3 priests,” she lamented.
“In short, by all standards of morality and political necessity: We should not give a mass murderer more license to kill. No to death penalty!” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol likewise warned that the restoration of a death penalty law would also allow for further judicial harassments, persecution of political dissenters and activists and employment of other “dirty tactics” by the Duterte administration.
“Some of the methods adopted are downright illegal and immoral, such as the peddling of fake news, hurling of verbal insults, and circulation of hate speech,” she recalled.
“Other means however bear the semblance of legality – which is the more pernicious and disturbing trend – as they involve the rigging of legal and judicial processes to persecute critics and activists,” she added.
Instead of supporting death penalty to aid in deterring criminal activities, De Lima has instead filed Senate Bill No. 187 seeking to impose qualified reclusion perpetua or 50-year life imprisonment without possibility of parole, for extraordinary heinous crimes, such as drug cases and plunder.