DEATH penalty in the Philippines dates back to the time of Spanish colonizers and the American occupation where executions were conducted by firing squads, decapitation and drowning, among others.

It was not until President Corazon Aquino’s term that the death penalty was first abolished. However, President Fidel Ramos reinstated capital punishment, but it was later removed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Eight years later, with the spate of heinous crimes, come calls to revive the death penalty. Is the Philippines just letting history repeat itself once more?

Senate Minority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said the Philippines has become a “virtual wild” without the death penalty. He filed a bill imposing death penalty last January believing it would be a deterrent to criminality.

Instead of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, he wants death by lethal injection for capital offenses.

As of 2013, more than 800 executions have been carried out in 22 countries worldwide, statistics from Amnesty International showed.

However, this does not mean that the Philippines should follow the footsteps of its neighboring nations.

The country should instead prioritize fixing its flawed justice system before even thinking of reviving the death penalty.

No matter how heinous a criminal act is, what authority does the government have to determine who deserves to die? As one critic once said, it is but a state-sanctioned murder.

Would capital punishment prove to be effective in modern society?

Advocates of the death penalty say it is only fair to punish criminals to the fullest extent of the law. After all, it’s supposed to be “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Behind the veil

However, the standards of a developed society demand a much more measured response over simple vengeance.

Society’s initial instinct is to inflict immediate pain on someone who wronged them. But the emotional impulse for revenge is not a sufficient justification for invoking a system of capital punishment. Encouraging our basest motives of revenge, which ends in another killing, extends the chain of violence. Responding to violence with violence will only breed more violence.

The lethal injections used to carry out death sentences cannot mask the brutality of executions.

Like what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops once said, “We cannot overcome crime by simply executing criminals, nor can we restore the lives of the innocent by ending the lives of those convicted of their murders. The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life.”


  1. “It was not until President Corazon Aquino’s term that the death penalty was first abolished.” Sorry, I beg to disagree. Aquino’s term continued to violate human rights violations and most of all, unrecorded extrajudiciary killings, especially as chief of command for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


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