Cordi youth group slams approval of death penalty

>> Thursday, March 16, 2017


By King Cris P. Pulmano

BAGUIO CITY- The Cordillera Anakbayan youth group expressed dismay over approval of the death penalty bill without “ample deliberation” among legislators in the House of Representatives.
The group claimed the passing of the bill unjust as it bypassed democratic processes in the Lower House.
Luke Bagangan, secretary-general of Anakbayan Cordillera said the period of interpellation and proposals for individual amendments were cut short by the house leadership.
Quoting the criticism of Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate, Bagangan said lawmakers were barred from airing their opposition as the passage of the bill was being “rushed.”
Bayan Muna, together with other party members of Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan) expressed opposition to the bill.
Zarate said House members, including those from the Makabayan, were not given enough venue to register their opposition and to propose amendments.
“It is alarming to know that democratic legislative processes were not able to smoothly run its course. We somehow expected the house approval of death penalty bill but this is far too early if proposals of anti-death penalty solons were considered,” said Bagangan.
Bagangan said the bill should be discussed more as several human rights and church groups have already registered their disapproval.
Any bill, especially if as important as the issue death penalty, should be well deliberated. We are talking of taking lives here, thus our lawmakers should not be hasty in making decision.
The group added that pro-death penalty legislators have yet to establish reasonable basis for the urgency of the bill as no significant improvement in crime statistics were recorded during former president Fidel Ramos administration, when death penalty was still legal.
“Considering the crime rate during the Ramos regime, the situation is not something to be bragged of. It is therefore illogical why such bill is being railroaded in the first place,” added Bagangan.
Anakbayan feared that such policy may become selective as justice is said to be problematic as claimed by the said group. “It is no longer an issue whether killing of criminals is moral or not. It is also an issue whether the justice system in the country truly upholds fairness,” said the youth leader.
Bagangan claimed that the so-called “99 percent” of the arrested or killed alleged drug personalities during the implementation of the administration’s Oplan Tokhang were small-timers compared to impunity-protected drug lords.
Meanwhile, political activist will not be spared from possible capital punishment, the group said.
Bureau of Corrections Director General Benjamin Delos Santos earlier recommended rebellion, sedition and coup d’├ętat as actions punishable under a death penalty law.
“Political activists especially those being critical of anti-people policies and programs of the government, usually fall victims of trumped-up charges to silence them. Once death penalty is revived, opportunist government officials will surely use this against their critics,” said Bagangan.
Data from human rights watchdog Karapatan revealed that there are 402 political prisoners all over the country as of February this year.

Among them, 30 were arrested under the Duterte presidency.

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