Thursday, May 22, 2008

More So Now Than Ever Before

I've been interested to follow some of the articles about the recent violence in the Philippines and the calls to reinstate the death penalty there, after the country had, two years ago, become the first Asian nation to abolish capital punishment. This article quotes the Filipino Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and this one describes the varying views among lawmakers.

It seems a good time to reprint an article we published in our newsletter two years ago about victim opposition to the death penalty in the Philippines:

In June [2006], the Philippines became the first Asian nation to abolish the death penalty. One of the lawmakers voting in favor of abolition was Senator Richard Gordon, whose father, James Gordon, was murdered by an escaped inmate in 1967, and whose niece was murdered by a houseboy many years later. Senator Gordon said in his co-sponsorship speech that he was voting in favor of abolition “not just to be merciful but to be just. It is so easy to kill a person to bring him to justice, but the lifetime suffering of a nation when it finds out that it has made a mistake is indelible.” The Senator emphasized the need to focus on crime prevention in addition to abolishing the death penalty. “We cannot just sit idly by and abolish the death penalty while at the same time be inattentive to the fact that there are constant killings here in our country and the government does not seem to have the capability to properly investigate these crimes, as well as to stop these killings on the streets,” he said.

Another family member of a murder victim who openly opposed the death penalty in the Philippines was Raydean Salvosa, whose brother was brutally murdered during a robbery. Mr. Salvosa told us that fear and frustration has fueled strong public support for the death penalty in the Philippines. “Because people are afraid of the high crime rates and frustrated by the inefficiency of law enforcement, the death penalty is seen as the answer to their problems,” he explained.
For many years a professor of political theory, Mr. Salvosa had always opposed the death penalty for both philosophical and practical reasons. His brother’s murder challenged those beliefs.
“But in the end, I am still against the death penalty – more so now than ever before,” Mr. Salvosa told Article 3. “If executing those men would bring back my brother, I would be all for it. But it doesn’t – it just makes us guilty of the same crime.” Mr. Salvosa is now the Managing Director of the Consuelo Foundation, which supports programs that help abused and street children and juvenile offenders. He asks, “Why not rechannel our efforts into destroying the conditions of poverty, injustice, abuse, and neglect that breed men like those who murdered my brother?”

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