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Letters to the Editor

Meant to protect ruling class, not masses

/ 12:02 AM December 17, 2016

Death looms once again after the House of Representatives justice committee approved the proposal to reinstate the death penalty in the country. Not contented with the death toll from the present administration’s drug war, the “honorable” House members—mostly are  allies of President Duterte—are bringing the government’s war on drugs to the next level.

Once enacted, the law allowing again the death penalty—which could be by hanging, by firing squad, or by lethal injection—awaits those who will be proven guilty of the heinous crimes enumerated under the death penalty bill, such as murder, parricide, infanticide, rape, bribery, kidnapping and drug-related crimes.

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And so it seems that the human rights situation in the country is about to get worse even before it has gotten better. On one hand, there is the state-sponsored summary executions that further fuel the culture of impunity in the land. Now, the hypocrites want to legalize drug-related killings by restoring the death penalty as if it would help deter crime. Either way, it is the poor who always get punished.

In a Third World country like the Philippines, where justice only belongs to those who can afford it, capital punishment is meant to protect the interests of the ruling class, not of the masses. It represents the brutal nature of the state whose objective is to preserve the status quo, even as the majority of its people are living in impoverished conditions. As the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda astutely observed, “The courts exist to protect the robber barons; jails are only for those who steal a loaf of bread.”

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In my opinion though, it’s not morality that makes the death penalty unacceptable. Morality itself is determined by the prevailing social system. The burning of heretics, for example, was not considered immoral when the Catholic Church had economic and political control of medieval Europe.

Justice and equality are inseparable—it’s a single equation that must be solved. So, as long as chronic poverty and the “great divide” between the rich and poor exist, the death penalty will never be justified. DANIEL ALOC, [email protected]

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TAGS: death, death penalty, Duterte, House of Representatives justice committee, masses, Ruling Class
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