UPHOLD LIFE. Various groups opposing the death penalty bill hold a protest outside the House of Representatives on March 7, 2017. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Left-leaning groups and social media users denounced the approval of the controversial death penalty bill by the House of Representatives on 3rd and final reading on Tuesday, March 7.
"Death penalty will only exacerbate the already corrupted and skewed justice system, where the poor and oppressed languish in jail for trumped-up crimes while the rich, the dictators, fascists, and drug lords are coddled," Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago said in a statement.
Elago’s group trooped to the gates of the Batasang Pambansa along with other progressive groups before the voting started.
Kabataan added that President Rodrigo Duterte should be held accountable for the passage of the bill, which is a key priority measure of his administration.
"Duterte insists on touting death penalty as the ‘change’ that is coming, while conveniently hiding its irresponsibility and grave negligence in addressing the real roots behind the growing prevalence of poverty and crime, such as contractualization and the worsening neoliberal policies on education and trade," Elago said.
A total of 216 lawmakers voted in favor of the measure while 54 voted against it and 1 abstained. A total of 271 out of 292 congressmen were present during the voting.
‘Human rights violations’
The League of Filipino Students (LFS) slammed the House’s swift passage of the death penalty bill, describing it as a "fascist attack against the people" that will add to the growing number of human rights violations under the Duterte administration.
"It is only a cover-up to the failure of Duterte to fulfill his promise to eradicate crimes. This administration has once again failed to address the root cause of crimes just like how it failed to address the root cause of drugs – poverty. And just like its fascist approach in the drug issue, Duterte will start another round of killings," LFS national spokesperson JP Rosos said.
"There are far too many crimes committed by the Duterte regime against the people. We will not rest until justice is served and we will smash everything that will hinder this justice – death penalty included. We will fight tooth and nail against our anti-poor, pro-foreign social system that perpetuates injustices through a fascist rule," he added.
According to human rights group Karapatan, around 15 civilians were killed in February 2017 alone, adding to killings and illegal arrests allegedly committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against progressive leaders since Duterte started his term.
Youth group Anakbayan also weighed in on the controversial bill and called for protests against the Duterte administration on International Women’s Day on Wednesday, March 8.
"Ultimately the death penalty is simply another instrument to sow terror and silence dissent. That plunder is excluded from the bill is very telling of the way death penalty is directed primarily against the poor, the dispossessed, and the voiceless," said Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.
The Left has been allied with Duterte since he took office in July 2016. But recent issues like the hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the scrapping of peace talks with communists have strained their relationship.
‘Not the right solution’
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. Leftist groups oppose the reimposition of the death penalty, which is a priority of the Duterte administration. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler
The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) also reiterated its position that the death penalty is "discriminatory in nature."
"Capital punishment does not deliver on its hopes for better justice, closure for all parties concerned, and better crime prevention. It does not give full cognizance of the implications of its irreversible effect, the reality of the limits and inevitable class discrimination of the judicial process, and the misconception of closure and justice itself," the group said.
The PAP has been spearheading a community-based approach to drug rehabilitation that would benefit both drug users and their families. (READ: Psych interventions needed in drug rehab programs – expert)
The group proposed to "develop programs that aid in the redemptive rehabilitation of offenders, that support victims and their loved ones through and in the aftermath of judicial processes, and that foster the psychological wellbeing of these persons."
Netizens who are against the death penalty took to social media to express their frustration over the House’s passage of the bill. (READ: #NoToDeathPenalty trends as House approves bill on 2nd reading)
BREAKING NEWS: The Philippines becomes a country of murderers by imposing death penalty. #NoToDeathPenalty
— Arbet Bernardo (@ArbetBernardo) March 7, 2017
Again: A thousand steps backward. #NoToDeathPenalty
— Jobelle Domingo (@jobswaitforit) March 7, 2017
Kahit ano pang krimen kasama sa listahan ng death penalty, hindi parin dapat binuhay yan sa umpisa #NoToDeathPenalty
— Wubalubadubdub (@JGDP_89271) March 7, 2017
Disappointed with our House. #NoToDeathPenalty . But what do you expect, really? Very few politicians who have a mind of their own.
— Xavier S. Padilla (@xavyniceday) March 7, 2017
Life is a gift from God. #NoToDeathPenalty
— Michelle Ann (@MichSocorro) March 7, 2017
Some also expressed disappointment that their representatives voted yes. Others are hoping the Senate will reject the bill. (READ: House opposition: Pointless to push for death penalty if Senate rejects it)
Remember these names.
Photo credits: kristine abbey#NoToDeathPenalty pic.twitter.com/5Re7967CJl
— fatimavichelle (@Mfvcyumuya) March 7, 2017
If your representative voted for death penalty, address him as *name*, that man of blood. #NoToDeathPenalty Let them research the ref.
— Arbet Bernardo (@ArbetBernardo) March 7, 2017
Congress has disappointed us. Senate, do not fail us. #NoToDeathPenalty
— Abby Pilar (@abbypilar) March 7, 2017
Hindi pa tapos ang laban wag sana tayong biguin ng ating mga senador tulad ng pagbigo satin ngayon ng ating nga mambabatas#NoToDeathPenalty
— Wayne Mateo (@WeginaldRayne) March 7, 2017
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III previously said there will be a "close fight" in the Senate when they vote on the death penalty bill. – Rappler.com