Capital punishment (the death penalty) may well be making a comeback as both ordinary people and political leaders grow tired of the excesses inherent in prioritising the “rights” of criminals over those of law abiding members of society. For developing countries in particular, the issue is becoming a major sticking point as the money spent on housing, feeding and medicating criminals for life is a wasteful expense that would otherwise be saved if a speedy trial produced a guilty conviction followed by a judge ordered sentence of death.
In The Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the death penalty to be reinstated after it was first abolished in 1987 before being reintroduced and then being abolished a second time in 2006. Speaking last year, Duterte stated,
“Our criminal system uses the revised penal code. That is a law given to us by the Spaniards, the original revised penal code, though it was translated into English. And those two books, the definition of crimes and the penalties and everything, and the thrust of that revised penal code, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of retribution. That is why you have (the death) penalty.
In the Philippines, it is really an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. You took life, you must pay it with life. That is the only way to even. You cannot place a premium on the human mind that he will go straight. You are soon to be lenient about this son of a bitch, a human being that has a virulent brain and his enemy is society. That’s the advantage of criminals and rebels and terrorists because they think that you are afraid to die”.
In March of 2017, a bill for the re-introduction of the death penalty passed the Philippine House of Representatives by a wide margin although the bill has currently stalled as it must now be presented to the Senate. This in and of itself makes a strong argument for the efficiency and transparency inherent in a parliamentary system vis-a-vis the slow and often conflicted presidential/congressional system that is currently in place in The Philippines.
Moreover though, Duterte’s clear position on the death penalty demonstrates that he is increasingly in tune with the wider global trend of prioritising a quick end to the life of a criminal over spending in some cases millions to keep such criminals alive long after their victims have been massacred without mercy. ASEAN’s most successful nation Singapore continues to enforce the death penalty, including for the society destroying crime of possessing narcotics. Narcotics related offences are also punishable by death in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam. Meanwhile in the superpowers China and the United States, the death penalty is an increasingly common means of sentencing the worst criminals, while in Russia and Turkey there is a growing momentum behind reinstating the death penalty. Moreover, US President Trump has stated that he wants to expand the death penalty to include drug dealers whom he rightly stated are responsible for more deaths than the average murderer.
Inline with the overarching trend of liberal politics growing less popular while third way, populist, conservative and modern left politics are all on the ascendant, one of modern liberalism’s sacrosanct principles, that of affording the criminal more rights than the victim who self-evidently had his or hers violently taken away is becoming not only unpopular but increasingly reviled as a throwback to a liberal age that saw a global rise in narcotics use, sex related crimes, random assaults and murders and violent theft.
In attempting to shift the balance of justice from the criminal back to the victim, the death penalty achieves several important things:
–It sets a clear deterrent for future criminals who think they can get away with heinous crimes which damage society and innocent human life
–It shifts the financial burden of the state from expensively jailing criminals back towards investment in the human development of the majority of good people in a given society
–It sends a clear message that the right to life is forfeited when one endangers multiple lives and the overall health of the nation
Because of this, if anything, the current legislation in The Philippines ought to push for an even more extensive scope of crimes that can be punished with the death penalty. As a nation without the death penalty, The Philippines is actually isolated among ASEAN as most of the country’s closest partners continue to execute dangerous criminals. There is no good argument for any nation, especially a developing one to lose its moral courage and waste the people’s hard earned money on protecting criminals from the ultimate justice.
If The Philippines can at long last bring back the death penalty it is almost certain that many other prominent nations will follow suit, beginning with Turkey and Russia.