Press Release
July 6, 2019

De Lima pushes qualified reclusion perpetua as substitute for death penalty

Amid the planned re-imposition of the death penalty law by allies of the Duterte administration, Opposition Senator Leila M. De Lima has filed a measure imposing qualified reculsion perpetua on extraordinary heinous crimes, such as drug cases and plunder.

In her Senate Bill No. 187, De Lima wants to mete punishment of life imprisonment on extraordinary heinous crimes in lieu of the death penalty which she said has failed to prove as an effective deterrence against heinous crimes.

If enacted into law, De Lima's measure will impose qualified reclusion perpetua on persons found guilty of treason, piracy, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, destructive arson, rape, plunder and violations of Dangerous Drug Act of 2002.

The measure also covers other extraordinary heinous crimes such as carnapping, human trafficking, acts of violence against women and children, violations of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, torture and terrorism.

Aside from qualified reclusion perpetua or imprisonment of 50 years with no possibility of parole, those guilty of extraordinary heinous crimes will be fined PhP5 million under the measure.

"As the efficacy and morality of the death penalty is questionable at best, there is a need to legislate an alternative punishment against extraordinary heinous crimes," said De Lima, a staunch advocate of social justice and human rights.

"The penalty of qualified reclusion perpetua and a fine of ?5,000,000.00, will send a clear message that we do not take heinous crimes lightly nor do we condone those who perpetrate them," the lady Senator from Bicol added.

Aside from the death penalty law's failure to deter heinous crimes, the former justice secretary believes that its revival will only affect the poor who have no capacity to avail of services of a lawyer to defend themselves in court.

De Lima further explained that the proposed re-imposition of the death penalty law at a time when the Philippine justice system is still plagued by perceived corruption and inefficiency could possibly lead to wrongful convictions.

Underscoring her point, De Lima said the Supreme Court admitted in one of its decisions that the judicial error rate on death penalty cases is 71.77 percent while the High Court's review of capital cases up to January 2006 found that four out of five death inmates have been wrongfully sentenced by the various lower courts.

De Lima warned that the Philippines, as a signatory, will be in violation of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights if death penalty is restored.

"On the other hand, legislating commensurate punishment against heinous crime offenders other than death penalty will not only be legal and moral, but also more practical," she added.

The De Lima measure seeks to amend Section 2 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9346, otherwise known as "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines".

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