Amnesty asks CdO solon to be firm vs death penalty

By Bong D. Fabe, Correspondent

NOBEL Peace awardee Amnesty International (AI) urged Wednesday this city’s representative to the Philippine Congress not to waver from his opposition to the death penalty following his push for imposing capital punishment on convicted drug traffickers whose countries have existing death penalty.

“Human life is indeed sacred as you said; there are no ifs or buts. Please don’t waver from your anti-death penalty stand, Congressman Rodriguez,” said Amnesty International Philippines Director Dr. Aurora A. Parong in reaction to Rep. Rufus Rodriguez’s efforts to amend the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002 to enable the government to mete death sentences to convicted foreign drug offenders.

Parong said that Amnesty’s position for all cases, regardless of crimes, remains the same: No to death penalty.
She said that death penalty is not a deterrent to crime and it violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006 and President Aquino has rejected calls for the return of the death penalty.

But Rodriguez (Second District, CDO) and his younger brother, Abante Mindanao partylist Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. who both claim to be pro-lifers and vehemently opposed the RH Bill, are pushing House Bill 4510 to amend the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002.

The Rodriguez brothers want to add: “If the violator of any of the provisions of this act is an alien, the penalty to be imposed shall be the penalty prescribed by their national law.”

Parong said this is a dangerous clause as this will allow the imposition of capital punishment if the convicted foreigner is from a country that allows death penalty.

“We have all worked hard to abolish the death penalty in the Philippines and Amnesty International is still campaigning to protect everyone around the world from state sanctioned killings. Working for ‘equity and reciprocity’ with regard to death penalty should not mean that we should execute foreigners just because Filipinos are being punished by death penalty abroad. Instead, we should all work persistently to abolish death penalty from each and every country that still sanctions state killings,” she said.

In pushing for HB 4510, the elder Rodriguez cited the cases of Filipinos who faced death penalty sentences abroad, like in China, as his reason for doing the same to foreigners in the Philippines, invoking “the rule of equity and reciprocity.”

“While there is no reason to question the laws of foreign countries, we must however ensure that our countrymen do not suffer the short end of the stick. As such, there is a need to amend our laws to ensure that foreign nationals caught violating our laws on drugs be also convicted on the harshest penalties that their national law imposes,” he said.

Amnesty International supports the UN Moratorium on Executions and is campaigning towards the abolition of the death penalty. Amnesty International Philippines has been actively campaigning against the executions in China and other parts of the world.

“When we abolished the death penalty in the Philippines we have directed the Philippine state to respect the right to life of everyone, not just Filipinos. The Rodriguez brothers are opening up the door for the state to kill again and we are not allowing that. We call on our legislators to stand fast on their commitment to human life and withdraw House Bill 4510 from Congress. We call all members of the legislature not to lend their support for this bill,” Parong said.

Amnesty International Philippines said it is ready to lead massive public actions against the bill if it remains in Congress. Amnesty International noted that there is a global trend towards abolition of the death penalty with less people executed in 2011. An overwhelming majority of countries did not use the death penalty in 2011. Only 21 out of 198 countries carried out executions—a big decrease from that of the last decade.

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