Press Release
January 6, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said a proposal in Congress to revive the death penalty should be debated openly and publicly although he maintained that capital punishment is not the solution to the alarming incidents of extra-judicial killings and other heinous crimes.

Pimentel was reacting to the proposal of Surigao del Sur Rep. Robert Ace Barbers to reimpose the death penalty in the wake of the spate of political killings, including the murder of Abra Rep. Luis Bersamin.

We have just passed the law abolishing the death penalty and although I personally do not see any connection, let me say that in a democracy, other views must be allowed to surface and to be discussed openly and publicly, so that all sides of the issue are considered, he said.

The minority leader said the upsurge of crimes could be prevented not by executing convicted criminals but by upgrading the efficiency of law enforcement agencies and the courts in solving crime cases and in punishing the offenders.

In many European countries where there is no more death penalty, he said criminality remains low because of the swiftness and decisiveness by which murderers, kidnappers and other crime perpetrators are tracked down and jailed by the police and meted out penalties by courts judges.

Pimentel said it is the efficiency of the law enforcement and criminal justice system, the fear of being caught and the certainty of punishment that strike fear in the hearts of criminals and would-be criminals and dissuade them from unlawful acts.

He said the number of countries in the world that have phased out the death penalty keeps on increasing every year due to the realization that it is an uncivilized, unChristian and inhuman form of punishment.

Pimentel said these countries subscribe to a modern penology which allows convicted offenders to reform, be reabsorbed into the mainstream of society and become productive citizens anew.

Moreover the repeal of the death penalty, he explained, means that the convicted heinous crime offenders would have to spend their life in jail as the maximum penalty.

To many a convicted offender, life imprisonment is even worse than the death penalty, Pimentel observed.

Pimentel stressed that the slayings of political activists and journalists can be solved and their occurrence prevented if the government would muster the political will to jail, prosecute and punish the culprits, including soldiers and policemen accused of perpetrating these crimes but who seem to enjoy the protection or tolerance of the authorities.

As long as the government is not doing enough to go after the death squads involved in the extra-judicial killings, any kind of harsh punishment under the countrys laws will be ineffective as a deterrent, he said.

At the same time, Pimentel voiced apprehensions that the Melo fact-finding Commission may only echo the version of the military and the police on who are responsible for the extra-judicial killings of political activists when its submits its final investigation report to Malacañang this month.

He lamented the reluctance of the most of the witnesses and families of victims of extra-judicial killings to testify before the Melo Commission because of the perception that it lacks independence and it was created to whitewash the probe.

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