Plun­der and death

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION - BONG O. WENCESLAO

I AM against the re-im­po­si­tion in the coun­try of the death penalty pri­mar­ily be­cause of our flawed jus­tice sys­tem. Be­sides, while I some­times wish those who com­mit heinous crimes dead, I am not a be­liever in the prin­ci­ple of “an eye for an eye” or even “lex tal­io­nis.”

I am for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of of­fend­ers, al­though at times that may not work, as there have been cases when re­leased pris­on­ers com­mit crimes again. But I read some­where the ar­gu­ment that if we are for the idea of “in­no­cent un­til proven guilty,”then the pre­cept “re­formable un­til proven oth­er­wise” can be true as well.

Even then, I am fol­low­ing the push by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, through Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez, to reim­pose the death penalty that was abol­ished in 20016 un­der the Glo­ria Ar­royo ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2006 through Repub­lic Act No. 9346 or the “Act Pro­hibit­ing the Im­po­si­tion of the Death Penalty in the Philippi nes.”

This ac­tu­ally has the mak­ings of a leg­isla­tive merry-go-round, depend­ing on the tem­per­a­ment of who sits in Malacañang be­cause in 1993, or un­der the Fidel V. Ramos ad­min­is­tra­tion, Congress passed RA 7659 or the “Death Penalty Law.” Now, Duterte and Al­varez have House Bill 4727 seek­ing the death penalty’s r evi val .

The mea­sure lists 21 crimes that it con­sid­ers as heinous, in­clud­ing mur­der, in­fan­ti­cide, par­ri­cide, rape, trea­son, qual­i­fied piracy, qual­i­fied bribery, and yes, plun­der. The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives opened de­bates on the bill in the ple­nary yes­ter­day af­ter its re­cent approval by the House jus­tice com­mit­tee.

Any­way, while I am against the re-im­po­si­tion of the death penalty, I con­sider as in­ter­est­ing the pro­posal last week by the House “su­per­ma­jor­ity” to take out plun­der from the list of heinous crimes. That re­ceived flak from the public and let us see who among the con­gress­men will move to have plun­der deleted in the ple­nary.

So al­low an anti-death penalty per­son to com­ment on how law­mak­ers are cob­bling to­gether a pro-death penalty bill. I mean, plun­der not a heinous crime?

But we are talk­ing here of politi­cians most of whom are wary of mak­ing a ham­mer that could end up be­ing used to crack their own skulls. Re­mem­ber the anti-po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty mea­sure that has re­mained in the realm of talk for decades now? Even the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion of Benigno Aquino III only paid lip ser­vice to it.

Many politi­cians are ea­ger-beavers when it comes to im­pos­ing the death penalty for crimes usu­ally com­mit­ted in the “out­side realm” (in house­holds, in the barangays, etc.) but do fear it if im­posed within their realm (in the gov­ern­ment). Which begs the ques­tion: Why not re­ject House Bill 4727 al­to­gether?

I un­der­stand why Al­varez is flipflop­ping on the plun­der is­sue. He went with the House ma­jor­ity lob­by­ing for the ex­clu­sion of plun­der as heinous crime but lately, us­ing the House probe into the ques­tioned lease agree­ment by the Philip­pine Amuse­ments and Gam­ing Corp. as es­cape hatch, wants it in­cluded again.

Wasn’t Al­varez charged with plun­der in 2001 while with the Manila In­ter­na­tional Air­port Au­thor­ity? The anti-graft of­fice dis­missed the case, though.

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