The FREE LEGAL
ASSISTANCE GROUP [FLAG] strongly opposes the incoming government’s efforts
to restore the death penalty and adopt and implement a “shoot-to- kill”policy.Theseactionsareillegalandunconstitutional,renderourlegalsystem
impotent and meaningless, and blatantly violate international law.
penalty and “shoot-to-kill” policy are anti-poor.
Thedeathpenaltyisanti-poor.Seventy-threepercent(73%)ofthe1,121inmateson death row before the death penalty was
abolished in 2006 earned less than ten thousand pesos (Php10,000) a month.
Eighty-one percent (81%), in addition, worked in low- income jobs as sales,
service, factory, agricultural, transport or construction workers.1If
thesenumbersareanyindication,itisthosewholiveinpovertywhowillsufferthe most if the death penalty is restored.
Thepooralsoborethebruntofwrongfuldeathpenaltyconvictions.Inthelandmark case of People vs. Mateo,2the Supreme Court revealed that
seventy-one percent (71%) of the death sentences handed down by the trial
courts were wrongfully imposed. This means that 7 out of 10 convicts on death
row–-most of them poor–-were wrongfully convicted and did not deserve to be
poor are vulnerable to the death penalty because they have no voice, no money,
no power, and lack the resources to hire good lawyers.For exactly the same reasons, they will also be vulnerable to
the proposed “shoot-to-kill” policy of the President-elect.
penalty and “shoot-to-kill” policy cheapen human life.
death penalty and “shoot-to-kill” policy—coupled with the President-elect’s
proposal to employ death by hanging “until the head is completely severed from
the body”3—reflect acallousdisregardforhumandignitynotbefittingaChiefExecutive. TheConstitution,theCodeofConductofPublicOfficialsandEmployees,andother
laws impose on all public servants the duty to observe, respect, and promote
human rights. Advocating state-sanctioned killings is not just anti-poor but
The death penalty and “shoot-to-kill” policy, moreover, will
not deter crime–only the certainty of being caught and punished can do that.
What the country needs is a better justice system--not a new one based on the
barrel of a gun.
of the death penalty blatantly violates international law.
ThePhilippineGovernmentsignedtheSecondOptionalProtocoltotheInternational CovenantonCivilandPoliticalRightson20September2006andratifiediton20 November 2007
reservation.The Second Optional Protocol
renounce the use of the death penalty definitively.”5
President-elect Duterte is bound by the Second Optional
Protocol. In the words of two highly respected experts on the death penalty,
Sir Roger Hood, Professor Emeritus of Criminology,
University of Oxford, and William Schabas, Professor of Human Rights Law and
International Criminal Law, Leiden University —
would,if itreintroduced the death penalty,bethe only nation to have
abolished it and reintroduced it twice, and the only nation to reintroduceithavingmadeacommitmenttoabolishingitbyratifyingthe 2ndOptionalprotocoltotheInternationalCovenantonCivilandPolitical
As for the Second
Optional Protocol, no State has ever attempted to denounce the Second Optional
Protocol. It would be unprecedented. I think it would also be illegal. The
Human Rights Committee has already made it clear thatdenunciationoftheCovenantitselfisimpossible.Thiswaswell-known tothePhilippineswhenitratifiedtheSecondOptionalProtocol.Article6(1) of the Second Optional Protocol
states, 'The provisions of the present Protocol shall apply as additional
provisions to the Covenant.' Thus, when [the] Philippines ratified the Protocol,
it agreed that its provisions became part of the Covenant. And it is impossible
to denounce the Covenant, in whole or in part. If [the] Philippines restores
the death penalty, it will be in clear breach of both the Covenant and the
Protocol. This has already happened with Liberia, which restored the death
penalty after ratifying the Second Optional Protocol. Liberia has had no
executions since ratifying the Second Optional Protocol, however. Given that
article 1(2) of the Protocol says, 'Each State Party shall take all necessary
measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction.', merely
enacting legislation for the death penalty, even if it is not imposed,
constitutes a breach of the Protocol and therefore of the Covenant.
If the Philippines
reinstates capital punishment (after having ratified the Second Optional
Protocol), the country would be condemned for violating international law. It
would be a great stigma.
shoot-to-kill policy disregards rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
1987 Constitution categorically mandates that “[n]o person shall be deprived oflife, liberty, or propertywithout due process of law.”6The
guarantees the right to be presumed innocent, to be heard, to counsel, to be
informed of thenatureandcauseoftheaccusationagainsthim/her,tohaveaspeedy,impartial, and public trial, to meet the
witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance
of witnesses and the production of evidence in his/her behalf. These rights are
brushed aside by the shoot-to-kill policy.
Theshoot-to-killpolicygivesunbridleddiscretiontolawenforcementofficerstotake the law into their
own hands and act as judge, jury, and executioner. It contravenes Article11(1-3)oftheRevisedPenalCodewhichauthorizespoliceofficersto usedeadly
force only when it is reasonably necessary. In the words of Justice Antonio
Carpio of the Supreme Court—
[…] a policeman is never justified in using unnecessary force
or in treating the offender with wanton violence, or in resorting to dangerous
means when the arrest could be affected otherwise.7
FLAG, therefore, calls upon the
President-elect to abandon his plans to restore the death penalty and impose a