Malacañang said on Sunday that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and his incoming administration should carefully study and conduct a referendum before they try to reinstate the death penalty in the Philippines.
Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. pointed out that there are possible international sanctions against the country which may arise if the death penalty is restored.
“The Secretary of Justice is affirming that the country has existing commitments to the United Nations and that reinstituting the death penalty is a vital policy change that needs to be thoroughly studied by the incoming administration and the 17th Congress,” Coloma said.
Recently, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno reminded the incoming administration that the Philippine government voluntarily signed on 2006 the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which requires the country to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty.
“No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed,” Article 1 of the Protocol states.
Incumbent Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas also said in an earlier interview that the international community might withhold emergency aid and other forms of cooperation if the Philippines will break the agreement regarding the death penalty.
“This is not a simple matter, it has to be studied,” Caparas stressed.
Aside from thoroughly studying the effects and consequences, Coloma added that the incoming Duterte administration should also listen to the Filipino people whether they want the restoration of the death penalty or not.
“The people’s voice needs to be heard, too, to ascertain whether indeed the majority would like to see this come to pass,” Coloma explained.
Duterte has pushed for the death penalty during his election campaign and has told lawmakers in a meeting last week to prioritize its reinstatement in order to stop crime and corruption in the country.
The Catholic Church, as well as several politicians and human rights groups, have expressed their opposition to Duterte’s plan, describing the death penalty as inhumane. They have also expressed concern about innocents getting falsely sentenced to death due to the faulty justice system in the country.