Monday, March 13, 2017

Death Penalty

Congress has been busy these days because of a clamor for the restoration of the death penalty.  The idea was rekindled by the rise to power of strongman, Rodrigo Duterte, who, by his own admission, had brought peace and order to Davao with an iron fist, causing deaths to hundreds until he allegedly had rid the city of criminality.  His minions in Congress wasted no time to have the bill passed, ironically putting plunder, treason and rape as exempted from among the crimes to be meted out with the death penalty.  One can only guess why congress would exempt these but it seems like the members would like to save their own skins, just in case. 

The nagging question has always been if the death penalty is a deterrent to crime.  A quick survey of the safest places on earth would yield that in 10 of the countries dubbed as the safest places on earth, only Japan has retained capital punishment and only for heinous crimes.  This tells us that the death penalty has nothing to do with the absence or presence of criminality – that it is not truly a deterrent.  In fairness to the President, he said that the death penalty, is not a deterrent but some form of retribution, a revenge; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. During his campaign, he unabashedly promised that there shall be six deaths daily once the death penalty has been restored. There is something wrong with the logic as presented here.  If this were the case, I would say then that a man is justified to kill someone who has wronged him gravely.  Why wait for the court to settle it when all we want is to exact revenge?  On another note, what if the death penalty is meted out only for heinous crimes? Is it okay then to implement it for after all, the culprit is like the devil incarnate and should be banished completely here on earth.  Maybe I might have agreed if only there is an assurance that those who face death are truly those that committed the crime. But hell no. In the Philippines, with its corrupt courts, only the poor are the ones who are condemned.  The so called big fish are still wallowing in the murky waters of the Pasig river or the esteros within Metro Manila.

The re-imposition of the death penalty is going back to the middle ages. I would liken it to the Muslim fundamentalists like the Taliban or the renegade ISIS who, under the guise of their Holy Book, rule their subordinates with irrationality. Only the naïve and the simpleton would believe that  death is the proper response to crime.  Such a simple solution is not the answer to a complicated problem that involves poverty, psychology, lack of education, greed, want, lust, and other forms of social malaise. 

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