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PIA Press Release

Death penalty: Is it a true deterrent to criminality?

By Rose Palacio

Davao City (7 December) -- While the Philippine government is currently studying if death penalty should be imposed on heinous crimes, the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP), the European Union (EU) and the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) have opposed its imposition.

Death penalty is not a deterrent to criminality, said Lawyer Persida Rueda-Acosta, chief Public Attorney, Public Attorney's Office (PAO), Department of Justice Manila during the CHRP-EU Human Rights Dialogue: Death Penalty and Restorative Justice held at Marco Polo hotel, Davao City Monday (Dec 5).

PAO Chief Rueda-Acosta cited a study on death penalty in the Philippines, Amnesty International and the result showed that: 1) innocent people may be sentenced to death through judicial error; 2) death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment; and 3) has no unique deterrent effect.

The PAO has long accepted the veracity of said findings, which bolstered the public attorney's commitment to continue their share in working for the abolition of death penalty in the Philippines.

The PAO as an agency mandated to serve the poor, who are in search for justice, has two specific objections: one is: it violates the right to equal protection of the poor; and second is: it denies due process of law.

Acosta suggested that lawmakers should spare some of their time in reviewing the pending bills on death penalty.

PAO, an attached agency of DOJ, has the duty to make certain that justice is served not only to the accused but also to the victims. An innocent accused is also a victim when he is wrongfully detained and accused.

PAO lawyers exhaust all means, within bound of law, to ensure that the innocent ones are freed from incarceration and the guilty ones are meted out with humane and appropriate penalty.

Through the efforts of PAO, from the year 2000 up to the middle part of 2005, before the Supreme Court, 56 death convicts were acquitted from death penalty. While 102 inmates were acquitted from death to reclusion perpetua; and 320 felons had a reduction of sentence from death to reclusion perpetua, she said. (PIA) [top]

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