Bishop wants to restore death penalty


MANILA – A Philippine bishop has reiterated his call for the restoration of the death penalty for heinous crimes following the deadly hostage-taking of a busload of mostly Chinese tourists by a dismissed policeman last week. Bishop Efraim Tendero, national director of Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), supported the proposal of Senator Miguel Zubiri to re-impose death penalty which was abolished by Congress and signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006.

Shortly after the abolition of the capital punishment, the PCEC issued a statement calling for the re-imposition of the death penalty.

“We are in favor of death penalty as it is biblical,” Tendero said.

However, he said that the measure must be balanced by a reliable judicial system.

“We uphold the principle of life for life. The punishment must fit the crime. The penalty must be commensurate to the gravity of the offense,” the group said in their statement four years ago.

Last week, Senator Zubiri filed Senate Bill No. 2383 seeking to revive the death penalty as deterrence for heinous crimes.

Zubiri filed the bill restoring the death penalty after the August 23 hostage-drama that killed eight Chinese tourists and the hostage-taker, former Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

In the 1987 Constitution Article III (Bill of Rights), Sec. 19, excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.

In mid-1987, a bill to seeking to reinstate the death penalty for 15 'heinous crimes', including murder, rebellion and the import or sale of prohibited drugs was submitted in Congress.

But in 1988, the military started lobbying for the imposition of the death penalty for crimes such as rebellion, murder and drug-trafficking. Anti-death penalty groups opposed the bill, but the Philippine House of Representatives voted for restoration by 130 votes as 25 against.

Three similar bills were filed before the Philippine Senate following a bloody coup in 1989, imposing death penalty for rebellion, sedition, subversion and insurrection.

In 1992 when retired Gen. Fidel V. Ramos was elected president, he called on Congress to pass a law restoring the capital punishment which it did.

Ramos signed Republic Act 7659 for the restoration of the death penalty law on December 13, 1993, effective January 1, 1994. The mode of execution is through lethal injection as provided for under Republic Act 8177, which replaced the prior mode of execution by electric chair.

No execution was carried out during the Ramos presidency.

It was only during the administration of then President Joseph Estrada that seven death-row convicts were executed. Estrada then announced a moratorium on executions in 1999. He granted executive clemency to 108 death-row convicts as he asked Congress to repeal the Death Penalty Law.

But it was only on June 6, 2006, that Congress repealed the capital punishment and then President Arroyo signed Republic Act 9346 on June 24, 2006, prohibiting death penalty.

No execution was carried out during Arroyo’s watch from 2001 to June 30, 2010.

Asia, JusticeBen Cal