Is there A Need To Revive the DEATH Penalty?
There is a renewed clamor for the revival of death penalty after President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his call for a “swift passage of the law reviving the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”, in his fifth State of the Nation Address last Monday, July 27, 2020.
The death penalty in the Philippines has been implemented, abolished, and reimposed several times in the past. Republic Act No. 7569 which re-imposed the death law in 1993 and was revoked in 2006 by Republic Act No. 9346. Many believe that having death penalty as capital punishment deters crime.
Death penalty is the oldest penalty in human civilizations dating since the ancient times. Since then, there is no empirical data yet to support the claim that death penalty deters crime. In the middle east, Saudi Arabia in particular, the death penalty is even carried out in open public view but still has not deterred heinous crimes. China, has imposed the death penalty on convicted drug traffickers but it has not deterred “drug mules” from smuggling-in prohibited drugs (Banaag and Cruz).
Banaag and Cruz in their book Socio-Anthro. An Integrated and Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of Society, Culture and Politics, quoted The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in its article entitled “The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers:
The death penalty has no deterrent effect. Claims that each execution deters a certain number of murders have been thoroughly discredited by social science research. People commit murders largely in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they are mentally ill, giving little or no thought to the possible consequences of their acts. The few murderers who plan their crimes beforehand – for example, professional executioners – intend and expect to avoid punishment altogether by not getting caught. Some self-destructive individuals may even hope they will be caught and executed.The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as quoted by Banaag and Cruz.
Banaag and Cruz also touched on death penalty by lethal injection. “The choice (lethal injection) was said to be a more humane approach rather than death by excruciating torture and allowing public view or live media coverage is deemed to be excessive. In the first place, the criminal who committed the heinous crime did not regard humane treatment of the victim or thought of his doings as excessive”, they said.
They also stated that “the severity of the penalty that deceptively makes it appear an effective deterrent but rather in the effectiveness of enforcing the laws and efficient dispensation of justice. Even in the absence of the death penalty, criminals are already afraid being caught and spending jail time. Any penalty is useless unless there is certainty that criminals could not outsmart and escape the law, and ensuring a higher conviction rate is the most effective deterrent.”
Furthermore, “death is not the most severe punishment; on the contrary it is the easiest way out of punishment. It is rather the deprivation of a person’s freedom and the agony that comes with it described as a living death that is even more difficult”, they said.
Criminality is a complex societal issue. There is no easy way or shortcut in our effort to curb it. Government should see to it that there is an efficient mental health program in place, illegal drug trafficking is addressed, and justice is swiftly and effectively dispensed. If these things are present in our society, then probably we can forget about death penalty.
Banaag, Lee Mark T. and Cruz, Ma. Theresa M. SOCIO-ANTHRO. An Integrated and Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of Society, Culture and Politics. Mandaluyong City, Philippines: Books Atbp. Publishing Corp., 2016.
Manila Bulletin Facebook Page