DSWD rejects 'anti-poor' death penalty

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2017 04:20 PM

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) rejected Tuesday President Rodrigo Duterte's push to revive capital punishment against heinous crimes, saying the proposal is "anti-poor".

DSWD Asec. Maria Lourdes Turalde-Jarabe said criminality is determined by a number of factors including "poverty, lack of education, marginal economic opportunities, and even disabilities," 

Jarabe cited a 2004 research conducted by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) that showed that "71 percent of death sentences handed down by trial courts were wrongfully imposed."

Most of the death convicts cannot afford a good defense council as the same survey study showed that "70 percent of the 1,021 inmates on death row earned less than P10,000," she said.

"The overworked and underpaid public lawyers provide no solace. Meanwhile, the moneyed offenders pay private counsels who work on their cases full time," Jarabe said.

Senator Vicente Sotto III, who authored a death penalty bill, said he is willing to limit the crimes punishable by death to "high-level drug trafficking and manufacturing."

"I'm willing to forego the other crimes. With that, the anti-poor card will not fly because there is no drug lord na mahirap," Sotto said.

But Senator Risa Hontiveros said corruption in government and the flawed justice system also give capital punishment "a disproportionate impact on the poor."

The Philippines is not yet ready for death penalty as long as public officials can be bribed, and fair and speedy trial cannot be guaranteed for all, Hontiveros said.

"Katulad ng extra judicial killings, ang kaya lang nitong patayin ay ang mga mahihirap,"she said.

(Just like the extra judicial killing, death penalty can only kill the poor.)