THE ISSUE OF DEATH PENALTY

Even if there is a ground swell on the introduction or imposition of death penalty in the sentencing scheme, it would merely fall in deaf reception.  The present Speaker of the House, the venerable Gloria Arroyo is not in favor of any macabre looking piece of legislation.  Her principle and stand on the capital punishment may influence a major block in Congress not to toe the line.  And even assuming for purposes of political accommodation the lower chamber passes the Bill, the upper house, the Senate with its majority members would merely sat it down towards ignominy—notwithstanding the biblical bearer and boxing legend Senator Manny Pacquiao’s pontification on the virtue of reintroducing the supreme penalty.

But what about death penalty that it keeps on reinventing its presence in the social consciousness of a nation.  Of course, the stand of the national leadership has something to do with it.  This on to top of media sensationalized crimes.  There are times when patience is overtaken by exasperation; when understanding is defeated by frustration.

Let us look at how other countries fare when it comes to the imposition of death penalty.

In 1995, there were 41 countries recorded to have carried out capital punishment.  More than two decades later, half of these countries, 22 to be exact, still actively implemented the supreme penalty.

Historically, the capital punishment underwent some kind of evolution.  Accordingly, the Romans used different methods for different crimes—those who committed parricide or killing one’s parents or a close family member, for instance, were sealed inside a bag with a dog, ape, rooster and viper and drowned.  In pre-colonial Philippines, offenders were tied to a tree where there is a colony of army ants.

Burning at the stake was used in Europe and North America.  And for hundreds of years English and Japanese traitors were hung, drawn and quartered, which often included live disemboweling.  Advocates of capital punishment insist today’s methods, notably lethal injection, are far more humane.

In Indonesia, a few summers ago, 8 prisoners convicted of drug crimes including two Australians were executed by firing squad.  Previous to that, US State of Utah legalized the reintroduction of firing squads when lethal injection drugs aren’t available.

Note that drugs used in lethal injection are not poison.  As a matter of fact, it must have to pass through the Food and Drugs Administration as a non-toxic compound.  The effect of said drugs when used as instrument of death penalty is fatal as it is administered in overdose.

Various schools of thought emerged also in the course of death penalty legislation.  Former US President George Bush once said “capital punishment is a deterrent against future violence and will save other innocent lives.”  Media practitioner Auberon Waugh maintained however that “judicial execution can never cancel or remove the atrocity it seeks to punish; it can only add a second atrocity to the original one.”  And there are numerous views suggesting that what deters crime is the certainty of being caught as against the application of a severe penalty.

Proponents of death penalty however insist that it does but several studies concludeotherwise.  In 2014, the United Nationals Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “There is no evidence of a deterrent effect of the death penalty.  Statistics from countries that have abolished the death penalty indicate no increase in serious crime.”

But of course, crime is not only cultural but social.  And there are countries that are more traditional when it comes to its cultural idiosyncrasy as well as its social outlook.  And since life as well as death is acommon denominator in the fulfilment of survival, the issue of protecting life even to the extent of imposing death becomes a significant issue that will constantly haunt national even transnational consciousness.

Per Amnesty International’s latest data, 98 countries (to include Australia, UK and Scandinavian nations) have abolished the death penalty; seven others (to include Brazil, Fiji and Israel) retain it only for “exceptional” crimes (not including murder); 35  (to include Kenya, South Korea, the Philippines and Nauru) retain the law but haven’t executed anyone for at least 10 years;  while 58 actively use it.  China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the US were the top executioners.

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