MANILA - A human rights watchdog is urging Philippine lawmakers to vote with their conscience, not with their political affiliations on deciding on the proposed restoration of death penalty in the country.
Amnesty International (AI) Philippine Vice Chairman Atty. Romeo Cabarde Jr., also said Thursday they will continue to lobby against the bill even though it has already passed the House of Representatives sub-committee on judicial reforms.
"The human rights organization Amnesty International will continue to call on our representatives to heed the call of conscience and human rights and human dignity," he said in an interview with ANC's Headstart.
He added, they are also calling on solons to vote "in accordance to what is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and what is our commitment in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
Cabarde vowed to monitor the bill's progress and continue to oppose it, emphasizing that instead of doing the country good, it will lead to the "detriment" of the Philippines.
They are also encouraging local groups to oppose death penalty.
"I hope our members in the Congress will truly stand by the name upon which they are called, as representatives of the people, and they will listen to what the people want," he said.
In an earlier part of the interview, Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro, principal author of the bill, said he is confident of the "overwhelming" support for the bill's passing.
Cabarde said they cannot yet verify if indeed a large chunk of the floor shall vote in favor, but noted that it is "alarming" that the Congress will play "the numbers game" and will manage the passage based simply on numbers.
"But I hope that the congress will look at the intrinsic merit, intrinsic value of the bill more than just party loyalty or party affiliation of the members of congress," he said.
"We will continue to lobby and convince members of congress to vote against the death penalty," he added.
AI is condemning the three forms of punishment stipulated in the proposed law, namely lethal injection, firing squad, emphasizing that they would be "repetition of what we had in history."
"We know that the Philippine history, dating back to as early as the Spanish colonization, out history is replete with very repressive forms of death penalty—from its initial purpose of silencing Filipino resistance to being a deterrent to a crime," said Cabarde.
"We feel that these are barbarous methods, these are inhumane and these are violations of our fundamental human rights and over the time, over the course of history, these forms of death penalty have not really served its purpose," he added.
Cabarde also highlighted that once legislated, killing now will become "institutionalized."
"There seems to be a disconnect between the message of the proposed bill and what we want people to learn from it because why do we have to tell people legally through death penalty that killing is wrong by also killing people," he said.