Disagreeing with his principal, DFA chief Locsin says no to death penalty

July 11, 2019 - 11:13 AM
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Teddy Locsin Jr.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. discusses matters with the Filipino community during a gathering at the Philippine Embassy in Brussels, Belgium on Oct. 19, 2018. Accompanying Secretary Locsin is Ambassador to Belgium Eduardo José de Vega. (Presidential photo)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. openly expressed his opposition to the death penalty despite it being among President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign and political promises.

“It just degrades society by making everyone complicit in a capital error of miscarried justice. EJK is a crime of the cop; judicial killing is our crime,” Locsin said on Twitter.

He reacted to a report on Sen. Ping Lacson’s preference that those found guilty of heinous crimes be executed.

Lacson, who was among those who filed bills to reimpose death penalty, said that lethal injection is his preferred capital punishment.

His colleague, newly elected Sen. Bato Dela Rosa, proposed public execution through a firing squad. Dela Rosa was Duterte’s top cop who enforced the deadly war on drugs led ot the deaths of thousands of suspects outside trial.

But for Lacson, execution through firing squad is too harsh.

“Medyo brutal naman masyado, although experience would tell us in [1973], si Lim Seng, when he was publicly executed through firing squad, talagang nag-zero, almost gone, almost nil, if not talagang totally nawala ang problem ng drugs,” he said.

Duterte has pushed the reinstatement of death penalty since 2016, claiming it inspires fear and discipline.

Early this June, neophyte senators Dela Rosa, Bong Go and veteran Sen. Manny Pacquiao—all close allies of the president— filed separate bills to restore death penalty.

Dela Rosa’s Senate Bill 226 metes out the death penalty with a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million for drug traffickers and manufacturers.

Pacquiao’s Senate Bill 189 also sought death penalty on crimes involving illegal narcotics.

Go’s Senate Bill 226 shall penalize those who commit plunder-related and drug-related cases.

Lacson added a slew of crimes on the measure he submitted. These include rape, murder, illegal detention, kidnapping and human trafficking.

Other senators allied to Duerte agree with capital punishment. They are:

  • Cynthia Villar
  • Bong Revilla
  • Sherwin Gatchalian
  • Imee Marcos
  • Koko Pimentel
  • Sonny Angara
  • Pia Cayetano
  • Francis Tolentino
  • Lito Lapid

Death penalty was implemented in the country for many years until it was abolished under the 1987 Constitution during the time of late President Corazon Aquino.

It was again reinstated under former President Fidel Ramos in 1993 by virtue of Republic Act 8177. The punishment was carried out through lethal injection.

Death penalty was removed again during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency in 2006 and had not been brought up until Duterte came to power.

Not effective in crime prevention

Various studies have shown that death penalty through any type of execution is not a crime prevention measure.

Results of a study in 2009 showed that 88% of the criminologists and criminal experts the researchers interviewed disagreed that death penalty can deter murder.

In the Philippines, experts also said that most victims of heinous crimes such as incestuous rape have not supported capital punishment to be meted out to their perpetrators.

The Psychological Association of the Philippines said that:

“A possible death penalty sentence for these cases has been noted to keep victims from pursuing charges, and a death sentence for the offender can bring guilt to the victim, further sorrow, and conflict within affected families (Madrid et. al., 2001; People v Agbayani, 348 Phil. 368, 1998; Jamon and Bautista, 2016).”

“In fact, majority of groups representing women and children in the Philippines, who are common victims of death penalty crimes, have taken a stance against capital punishment for rape and incest because they believe it would not solve the problem (Kandelia, 2006).”