Press Release
April 23, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said that the repeal of the death penalty law is long overdue; President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo having waited for five years before deciding to support this move despite her pro-life stand.

Pimentel made it clear that he is fully backing the Presidents decision to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment and to abolish capital punishment because he has long been pursuing the same objective. He said this does not in any way mean a softening of his call for the Presidents resignation due to her doubtful legitimacy and loss of credibility.

I called for the repeal of the death penalty, not because I like Gloria but because it is the proper thing to do. Death penalty is not a deterrent to crime; it has sent innocent people to the death row, including minors, elderly and mentally ill, he said.

Pimentel is the principal author of the Senate Bill 1143 that seeks to repeal the death penalty law (Republic Act 7659).

He said that despite the Presidents certification of the bill, its approval is expected to encounter difficulties in both chambers of Congress because the Filipino people are divided over the scrapping of the death penalty.

But since the repeal of the death penalty law is now a priority measure, Pimentel said he expects the leadership of both the Senate and House of Representatives to schedule the bill for floor deliberations.

In his bill, Pimentel proposed that heinous crimes like murder, rape, plunder and kidnapping-for-ransom be punished instead with life imprisonment without the benefit of parole or pardon.

The death penalty ought to be repealed because it cannot reform criminals, it does not qualify as a civilized way of achieving retributive justice and it is not a deterrent to crimes, he said.

Reforming the criminals, according to the senator from Mindanao, cannot be achieved by executing them but by imposing penalties other than death like imprisoning the convicted offenders for various lengths of time.

For obvious reasons, the execution of a convict defeats the purpose of reformation or rehabilitation because a dead man clearly can no longer be reformed or rehabilitated, he explained.

Pimentel said the death penalty is anchored on the ancient roman principle of Lex Taliones, the maxim that exacts an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth kind of justice. This principle, he said, has been discarded by many countries because it runs counter to the humanitarian thrust of modern penology.

If the objective of the death penalty is to restrain the offender from committing another crime, he said the restraint could very well be attained by putting him or her in the penitentiary for life, if necessary.

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