PAO chief now supports death penalty revival
23 December 2016
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta yesterday expressed support for the proposed restoration of death penalty in the country.
Acosta, who was instrumental in the earlier abolition of capital punishment, admitted that she has changed her position on the issue.
Her change of heart comes amid reports that she is being considered for appointment to the Supreme Court.
“I noticed that heinous criminals like killers, rapists of children and drug traffickers have become bolder nowadays, as if they fear nothing at all. If the crime is extra heinous and the evidence is strong, why not revive the death penalty?” she explained.
It was Acosta who argued before the Supreme Court for the moratorium on the death penalty in the kidnapping for ransom case against Roderick Licayan and Roberto Lara in 2004.
Being lawyers of indigent litigants, Acosta said that the PAO would make sure that those who would be executed are really the guilty ones.
“If those to be executed are innocent or if we have new evidence to prove it, I will personally ask the President to stay the execution,” she vowed.
The PAO chief believes that the public should not worry about the revival of the death penalty because there would surely be safeguards to protect the innocent.
“We should instead be assured that only guilty heinous criminals would be punished. Otherwise, our society will not be safe,” she argued.
Congress should be allowed to pursue such measure, which Acosta said would have comprehensive debates anyway.
The House justice committee recently approved the committee report of the substitute bill for the restoration of the death penalty, which proposes three modes of execution – hanging, firing squad or lethal injection.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier committed to pass the bill to restore the death penalty before their Christmas break.
During his campaign for the May 2016 polls, President Duterte vowed to restore the death penalty as part of his anti-criminality platform.
Rodrigo Duterte on being a terror to evildoers
‘Even hardened convicts are scared of death’
Posted on Monday Dec 12th at 5:00am
By Delon Porcalla
MANILA, Philippines – Even hardened convicts are scared to die, an administration lawmaker argued in defending the proposed reimposition of the death penalty.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, one of the authors of the bill re-imposing the death penalty, cited the admission of convicted drug lord Jaybee Sebastian in a congressional inquiry that he is most afraid of dying.
Sebastian sustained several wounds in the chest and back in a recent stabbing incident in the New Bilibid Prison. He accused Sen. Leila de Lima of being behind the attempt on his life.
De Lima is being accused by President Duterte of receiving money from drug lords in exchange for protection when she was justice secretary.
Duterte is pushing for the death penalty, a move slammed by human rights advocates and the Catholic Church.
While a majority of members of the House of Representatives are leaning toward the reimposition of death penalty, the supermajority coalition have decided to hold off debates until January 2017.
“Speaker (Pantaleon) Alvarez agreed to pass the death penalty bill on third and final reading next year (January 2017) after a month of full-blown debates in the plenary,” Fariñas told reporters.
Alvarez earlier hinted that the House would pass on third and final reading the bill reimposing the death penalty before Congress goes on a month-long Christmas break on Dec. 16. Pro-life legislators accused Duterte’s allies of “railroading” the death penalty bill.
Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said the reimposition of capital punishment must be debated extensively in the plenary.
“We must evaluate and assess the pros and the cons because we don’t want to waste the value of human life. It must be studied thoroughly,” he added.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House committee on justice, maintained that the House would fine-tune the death penalty bill.
The justice committee last week voted 12-6 with one abstention, approving the report on a substitute bill that seeks to restore the death penalty for heinous crimes like rape, murder, arson, kidnap-for-ransom.
Umali said under the bill, only those found guilty of committing grave violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act will be punished by death.
Pro-life lawmakers Edcel Lagman of Albay and Kaka Bag-ao of Dingat Islands objected to the railroading of the death penalty bill, saying there are no statistics that can be considered as “compelling reason” to revive capital punishment.
But Umali and Compostela Valley Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga said the crime index provided by the Philippine National Police leadership to the justice committee is compelling enough reason to revive the death penalty.
Loretta Rosales, former chair of the Commission on Human Rights, said that the restoration of the death penalty in the country would still be a violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the Philippines is a signatory.
Yesterday, thousands of Catholics held a prayer rally in Bacolod City to express strong opposition to the reimposition of the death penalty. – With Gilbert Bayoran
INTERNET SOURCE: http://m.philstar.com/314191/show/92dd5fd2536e940ebc34b7dd1ea2e77d/
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