Karapatan: Reimposing death penalty to institutionalize carnage of the poor

Human rights watchdog Karapatan strongly warned that the proposals to reimpose death penalty for drug-related offenses "would only further institutionalize the already ongoing State-sanctioned carnage of the poor," as President Rodrigo Duterte pushed for the swift passage of a law reviving capital punishment by lethal injection during his fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 27.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina said that "while it is not surprising for a fascist and murderous regime to push for the revival of death penalty, that it was reiterated in the president's annual address to the people already speaks of the true state of the nation under Duterte: a nation suffering under the darkness of State-sponsored killings of the poor and attacks on people's rights."

"This bloodthirsty regime fetishizes death and violence, and Duterte strongly batting to reimpose death penalty is not surprising but no less infuriating — it's as if the mass murder of the poor at the hands of the police in the sham drug war or in the hands of soldiers through the counterinsurgency program aren’t forms of death penalty already, while the rich, the regime's most gung ho allies, and human rights violators can blatantly escape accountability without even an iota of remorse for their crimes," Palabay averred. 

The Karapatan official also asserted that any measure seeking to revive death penalty in the country is in direct contravention of the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which the Philippines is a signatory state and which the Philippines ratified in 2007 — exposing the "sheer hollowness of Duterte's promise in his address that the government would not dodge its human rights obligations."

"That Duterte is a hypocrite and his duplicity in his public declarations is no secret. His rabid allies in Congress as well as his bloodthirsty minions in the police are already parroting his call to revive death penalty to supposedly deter crimes by using the same iron-fist law-and-order rhetoric, when local and international studies and research already show the inefficacy of capital punishment in deterring crimes. Did the mass killings in the sham drug war stop the illegal drug trade in the country? No. Did the murderous rampage against peasants and indigenous peoples resolve the armed conflict in the country? No," she stated.

"A broken justice system will only yield broken sentences and punishments. Exacting genuine justice for crimes must not come at the expense of people’s rights and breeding more forms of injustice. We strongly assert a just and rights-based approach in addressing crime — one that also addresses the root causes of such drug-related crimes in the first place. A criminal regime punishing and killing off small, poor criminals is, perhaps, the greatest crime here," Palabay ended.