No compelling reason to reimpose death penalty: CHR commissioner

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Commissioner Karen Dumpit said there is no compelling reason to reimpose the in the Philippines.

During the House Committee on Justice hearing on death penalty bills, Commission on Human Rights chief noted Article III, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution. It states the death penalty should not be given as a punishment “unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it.”

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The congressional hearing on the death penalty resumed over a week after President Rodrigo Duterte renewed his call to reimpose the death penalty for drug-related offenses during his fifth State of the Nation Address.

“The Constitution says for compelling reasons, and it is our position that there is no compelling reason to reintroduce the death penalty,” she said.

Dumpit said the CHR equates heinous crimes as stated in the said provision in the Constitution to “most serious of crimes.”

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“In the most serious of crimes in international law, if you will have a listing of that, drugs is not found on the list. So we believe there is no compelling reason to impose the death penalty,” the official said.

Also read: Barbers: Death penalty is ‘only thing that even the most hardened criminals fear’

Dumpit also noted that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR, which the Philippines had an agreement with, prevent the reimposition of death penalty in the country.

“If we go ahead and reimpose death penalty, we will be found to be in serious breach of international law,” she said.

“It is a state obligation to be able to comply with the human rights treaties that we have acceded to, or we have ratified,” she added.

The CHR commissioner also cited the possible effect of death penalty revival on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) currently on death row in other countries.

“If death penalty is reinstated, the ability of the Department of Foreign Affairs to negotiate in behalf of our OFWs will be undermined,” she said.

“Moreover, our country will be considered as hypocritical if we will impose death penalty and at the same time, seek the lives of our OFWs who are in death row abroad,” he added.

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