Explainer: Misconceptions About Death Penalty in the Philippines

Explainer: Misconceptions About Death Penalty in the Philippines

Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong,
but finding out the right and upholding it,
wherever found,
against the wrong.
Theodore Roosevelt

House Bill No. 01 (HB 01) or the Death Penalty Law opens up a disgruntling division in a Christian nation where more than 80% of the people is Roman Catholic. Acceptance can only be a way out to veer away with the idea of debate over a religious view so pious that it has already embedded in the culture of their beliefs since time immemorial.

READ: Philippines to Reinstate Death Penalty, A Quick-Fix Measure?

This House Bill No. 01 seeks to impose a death penalty on particular heinous crime, repeal the Republic Act No. 9346 or the Act that prohibits the imposition of death penalty in the country, and amend Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and some special penal laws, as amended. (You can read the HB 01 here.)

The death penalty isn’t just your ordinary type of a punishment. Nor is it just like other categories of punishments where both the convicted offender of a heinous crime and the State as the punisher feel an exonerative satisfaction to the punishment for the crime committed. Rather, it is a prick of conscience and a lifelong moral burden to the executioner of the action delegated by the conscienceless State.

Supporters or advocates of this Death Penalty Law are seemingly suffering an “ethical senescence”—believed to have an ataxia of conscience that resulted in an unethical judgment brought about by an aging moral uprightness. They argued in favor of this capital punishment as just and fitting penalty for a heinous crime committed. They apparently misconceived the meaning of punishment to arrive at the notion of law and the idea of an intentional killing or murder in the pretext of justice to serve it just.

Death Penalty as Crime Deterrent

While proponents could present a statistics that showed a downward slope of a number of crimes committed in a period or two, it couldn’t substantiate a conclusion as a crime deterrent factor, because data about this capital punishment as crime deterrent refused the sufficiency test. There might be some data about the death penalty as an effective crime deterrent, but the sufficiency of the data is pygmied by countries with capital punishment as their means to deter crimes.

Besides not giving accurate information, there are only a few countries with this death penalty as a tool to curb crime proliferation. In the Philippines, a sufficient data to convince us that death penalty is effective as a crime deterrent is a missing link. A planned recourse to review international data about death penalty though significant to consider cannot be a salient input to justify that death penalty, indeed, deterred crimes. It cannot be treated as “one size fits all” perspective. It just cannot stand.

There are more other arguments than we can imagine in favor of death penalty; however, a majority of these arguments boil down to moral issues or ethical perspectives. Only as a crime deterrent argument is an apparently legitimate issue to begin and end the debate over death penalty to be implemented again in the country.

Heinous Crimes Deserve Death Penalty

The Death Penalty Law qualifies the following crimes deserving of a death penalty. However, these crimes are still subject to modification as HB 01 is under the House’s debate as of this time of writing:

  • treason;
  • piracy in general and mutiny on the high seas or in the Philippine waters;
  • qualified piracy accompanied by murder, physical injuries, or rape;
  • qualified bribery;
  • parricide;
  • murder;
  • infanticide;
  • rape;
  • robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons;
  • destructive arson;
  • crime of plunder;
  • dangerous drug-related offense; and
  • carnapping to a certain extent and qualifications.

While judges in courts are a hundred and fifty percent human being, infallibility is a major setback nobody could afford to risk the innocents after all. Killing them has no turning back to grant them life anew—an irreparable damage that is overwhelmingly substantial to consider a few steps backward or the raison d’etre why the death penalty isn’t just a choice.

Victims Deserve Justice

The law is a law no matter how harsh it is. However, could you imagine a law that is primarily made to give justice to the victims so much harsher than a life sentence? Proponents may quip insisting that death penalty is as good as justice as what victims deserve to receive it.

Death penalty advocates may apparently misconceive justice and retribution. Two different words and ideas with absolutely different notions in law and in moral perspectives.

Retribution doesn’t equate justice. A retributive justice cannot be considered justice after all. Revenge is just too unethical and extreme to use the harshness of the law in the pretext of justice. Although victims are viewed innocently killed by offenders, a direct and intentional killing is much more than a premeditated murder that could give burden to the conscience and moral health to an executioner who carried out the order of the State to kill in the name of service to serve justice that court sees it appropriate.

Then what separates the executioner in an inch away from the convict?

While it is the essence of the House Bill No. 01 to “protect the honor and the dignity and the very life” of each Filipino, it doesn’t logically follow that reimposition of the death penalty where the State can directly and intentionally kill the very life of a person is considered a protection of the very life. The reimposition of the Death Penalty Law defeats the promise of the Preamble of the Philippine Constitution itself.


The death penalty isn’t only an outright intentional murder in a form of punishment but also a blow of degradation of human rights in toto. The legality of the law in the country is based on the foundation of the human law that is created, modified or amended, and revised to serve the very purpose of justice the very law is deemed to be implemented.

Justice arrives at the notion of law needs not to be a retributive justice. For in qualifying justice as that, justice, after all, isn’t about the justness of the law in providing just, equitable reward and punishment under a given premise or circumstances.

An “eye for an eye” and a “tooth for a tooth” notions of understanding reward or punishment are absolutely no justice as what the very law of the land, the Constitution is upholding.

Furthermore, the Constitution is absolutely silent of a retributive justice that this Death Penalty Law or the HB No. 01 attempts to “circumvent” the Constitution’s wording about the death penalty.

While the Constitution is amenable to the death penalty for heinous crimes, and special laws define heinous crimes that can be understood well and are qualified for better classification, the reimposition of death penalty as to deterrence of crime commission purposes is absolutely and in grandstanding cannot be qualified, measured, and proven by such statistics alone.

Statistics can play its own game depending on where the loyalty of the statistics begins and ends. If the history of statistics proves its legitimate significance, then the history of crime deterrence measures have not yet been established its legitimacy for the Philippines to count on.

Since the Death Penalty Law is introduced primarily for deterrence and essentially for the protection of the dignity and the very life of a human being consistent to the Constitution’s very ideals to promote a humane society, sans the Philippines’ duty as party-signatory to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or ICCPR and to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, then House Bill No. 01 or the reimposition of the Death Penalty Law is outright not an option as punishment for such crimes. It rather defeats the sanctity of life in a humane society that the Constitution promotes. It vehemently degrades the country in whole to the very grassroots of the Philippine society.

#NOtoDeathPenalty #JunkDeathPenaltyLaw #respectLife

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Former stringer for Allvoices and contributor for Yahoo. Had worked as an editor in publishing companies for years and so far has earned some units in MBA.
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