Press Release
January 19, 2017

'High-profile karumal-dumal crimes could nudge restoration of death penalty'

The policemen who kidnapped and murdered a Korean national, despite the reported payment of a P4.5 million ransom, may end up as poster boys for death penalty, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto predicted today.

"Yung ganitong mga kaso, na sapin-sapin na mga krimen, ang nagbibay ng impetus sa kampanya na ibalik ang bitay," Recto said.

Recto stressed that "in principle I remain against capital punishment" but conceded "that cruelty and impunity inflicted in crimes like the one that victimized the Korean is beginning to define what a super heinous crime that may be punishable by death is."

"In terms of how dastardly a crime is, we are seeing examples of a higher bar in which death penalty, in the eyes of its advocates, could be imposed," Recto said.

"Ito yung mga complex crimes, halimbawa kinidnap ang isang minor, drinoga, tinorture, sinaktan, pinagnakawan, ni-rape, tapos pinatay pa at sinunog pa. Yung ganoong karumal-dumal na krimen ang may taglay na powerful emotional argument for death penalty," he said.

"Pero kung ordinaryong pagpatay lang o carnapping at wala nang iba pang aggravating circumstances, sa tingin ko hindi 'yan masasama sa catalog of crimes punishable by death. Kulong lang habambuhay," Recto said.

Recto acknowledged that the debates on death penalty "will be infused with actual examples of heinous crimes in which the demand for a greater restitution is high."

"It will go beyond theories and studies. Actual examples will be used by both sides. The pro will parade examples of heinous crimes. While the antis will cite successes of the power of rehabilitative justice," he said.

"Tulad halimbawa ng isang Abu Sayyaf na nandukot ng isang dosenang tao, pinahirapan, ginutom, ni-rape, tapos pinugutan ng ulo. How can these be arguments for clemency?" he said.

Recto said the long list of crimes of punishable by death won't pass muster in the legislature. "Kung Noah's Ark of crimes punishable by death, hindi papasa. Pero kung limited sa super heinous, na blood curdling, truly atrocious complex crimes, diyan magkakatalo."

Recto said the final vote will be influenced by a large constituency in the middle of the death penalty question.

"Merong mga advocate ng death penalty sa lahat ng krimen. Sa kabilang banda, meron naman absolutely no death penalty kahit gaano ka-heinous. Ang decisive tingin ko yung sa gitna. Those who will limit the scope of the bill that it only covers the truly monstrous and wicked acts, and install safeguards against abuses, and provisions for automatic review by the Supreme Court," Recto said.

Recto said he was only "explaining the legislative terrain, the policy atmosphere under which the great debate will happen, for the benefit of all concerned."

Recto said a needed companion measure of the death penalty bill is one to modernize the police force and reform the judicial system.

"The certainty of arrest and conviction is a better deterrent against crime. Maraming akyat bahay ang nagkakaroon ng lakas ng loob kasi alam nila na wala namang pulis na nagpapatrol o kung tawagan man ay matagal rumispunde dahil walang gasolina ang patrol car, " Recto said.

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