February 20, 2017
LIBERAL PARTY POSITION PAPER ON DEATH PENALTY
As a party that envisions and works for a just, prosperous, and more peaceful country, we at the Liberal Party strongly maintain our stand against the re-imposition of the death penalty, and support all opposition against the passage of a death penalty bill.
This has been our stand since 2006, when we voted to abolish the death penalty, and the reasons for our vote remain: It has repeatedly proven to be ineffective, it is overwhelmingly inflicted on the poor and powerless, it is imposed by a fallible and flawed justice system, and it violates international laws the Philippine nation has sworn to abide by.
1. The death penalty does not deter the commission of crimes.
Numerous scientific studies conducted in various countries have clearly and indisputably established that the certainty of punishment is a more effective deterrent against crime compared to the severity of punishment. The death penalty has never been scientifically proven to have a clear and substantial effect in reducing crime incidence.
In fact, in the Philippines, national crime volume increased by 15.3%, during the bumper year of executions in 1999 where seven individuals were executed for different heinous crimes. On 30 June 2004, then Senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. filed a bill to abolish the death penalty in the country. Acting on this and other similar bills, then President Arroyo on 24 June 2006 signed Republic Act 9346 that abolished death penalty. She noted that death penalty should be abolished because it had not been proven to be a deterrent to crime and had become invalid.
2. Death penalty kills mostly the poor.
In a survey conducted by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in May 2004, an overwhelming number of death penalty inmates belong to the poorest of the poor, have only an elementary education, work in low-paying and back-breaking jobs, live with hardly any access to drinking water and toilet facilities, and barely own property, including appliances and vehicles. In other words, the death penalty disproportionately targets the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of our society, those who have limited access to adequate legal representation and who are the most prone to have their rights disregarded or violated.
3. The Philippine justice system makes mistakes.
According to the Supreme Court, trial court judges issued erroneous judgments in 71.77% of capital-punishment cases tried. The required judicial proceedings that seek to minimize mistakes were rarely followed. According to the same FLAG survey cited above, one in four death inmates only had 0 to 1 consultation with their trial lawyers. Most inmates were arrested without warrants, not informed of their constitutional rights upon arrest, and not assisted by counsel during the investigation.
4. Restoring death penalty violates international laws which the Philippines is a party to.
The Philippines is party to international human rights instruments like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the Philippines in 1986, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR that specifically bans the imposition of the death penalty.
From an economic standpoint, if the Death Penalty is reinstated we could lose the PH-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which allows for enhanced access for goods and services in both the EU and the Philippines. In addition to the PH-EU FTA, we are at risk to lose access to the EU's Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+). The GSP+ allows us and other developing countries to pay less or no duties on our exports to the EU. It gives us access to EU markets which contributes to our economic growth.
Being part of an international community that upholds human rights, we are under obligation to maintain our commitments in ensuring our people's right to life, liberty, and security of person. The re-imposition of death penalty will violate these covenants and jeopardize our standing with our international allies, resulting in serious diplomatic, political, and economic consequences.
As we oppose the reinstatement to the death penalty, we recommend instead that we look into strengthening and reforming our Criminal Justice System to deter criminals in the country. We recommend that the Administration convene the JELAC (Joint Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council) to allow the three branches of government to coordinate and come up with concrete solutions for reform. In addition, we urge Congress to prioritize proposed legislation that will help our courts and implementing bodies to strengthen law enforcement and improve the administration of justice.
As a party that fought the Marcos dictatorship, the Liberal Party has always stood one among freedom-loving Filipinos. We continue our work in nation-building, welcoming ideas contrary to our own, believing that no entity -- whether State or political party -- can impinge on an individual's sacred right to his or her own feeling, thought, or conscience. We at the Liberal Party believe that democracy is tested not as a noun but as a verb, that democracy is perfected in the doing, in the embrace and not in the killing of the Other.
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