Death penalty ‘not solution’ to rampant illegal drugs – CHR

Published June 25, 2021, 11:16 AM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has assured its full participation in the Senate’s technical working group (TWG) meetings that would tackle the moves to reimpose the death penalty which it has been opposing vigorously.

(Photo courtesy of Commission on Human Rights)

Last May, the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Sen. Ronald M. dela Rosa announced it will create a TWG to weigh in on the possible reintroduction of the death penalty in the statute books.

The CHR participated in the hearings of House Bill No. 7814 conducted by Senator Dela Rosa’s committee. It was then invited to join the TWG’s discussions.

Death penalty for heinous crimes was abolished under Article III, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution.

However, in 1993 death penalty was reinstated under Republic Act No. 7659 but abolished anew in 2006 under RA 9346.

Several lawmakers and concerned sectors moved for the reimposition of the death penalty in view of the government’s all-out campaign against the proliferation of illegal drugs.

During the Senate hearing, the CHR stood firm on its position that the death penalty is not the answer to curbing illegal drugs in the country

“The Commission reiterates its position, shared in part by some of the government agencies in attendance at the hearing, that specific proposed provisions in the bill clearly manifest disregard for the rule of law and basic human rights guaranteed by the 1987 Philippine Constitution and enshrined in international human rights laws and principles,” CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez Dumpit said in a statement.

Dumpit said that there are provisions that reintroduce the death penalty, and the CHR said this is contrary to the country’s obligations under the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty.

She said that while the CHR noted the concerns of Senator Dela Rosa in trying to curb illegal drugs trafficking and use in the country, “bringing back the death penalty is never the answer.”

“Death penalty is not the solution but rather penal and criminal justice reforms that center on human rights-based approaches, which ensure proper accountability and certainty of punishment, in accordance with existing relevant laws,” she said.

“This should ensure that even those drug traffickers who are already incarcerated will be prevented from continuing with their crimes,” she stressed.

She pointed out that the CHR will continuously advocate for proposed measures that would ensure that the country fulfills its commitments under the International Human Rights Law and the United Nations Technical Cooperation.

“In doing so,” she said, “they would hopefully keep the death penalty as it currently is – abolished.”