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‘A life for a life’

12:01 AM February 20, 2017

During the 2016 election campaign, then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed to crush with all his presidential might the three dangerous, colossal enemies of the state: illegal drugs, crime, and corruption — all of which have been plaguing the country for decades.

After his landslide victory, and soon after he ascended to the presidency, he declared, via social media, that the war versus the three “diablos” — with emphasis on illegal drugs — was on.

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Aside from this “project,” he sounded two others which he believes are also must-accomplishments for his administration.

The first is changing our present republican government to a federal system similar to what the United States has. The goal is decentralization, e.g., devolving the vast powers and functions of the national government among several smaller local government units to be called federal states. This is to give the latter more freedom in conducting their businesses in manners they believe are appropriate for them locally, and in ways that are consistent with their cultural, geographical, demographical and political situations.

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The federal states will operate with less control from the national government, but always mindful of the superiority and dominance of the national government as the highest political entity.

Shifting to federalism is easier said than done, as this would require a complex process that includes, but not limited to, the overhauling of the Constitution for the new system. This is aside from crafting appropriate policies that would smoothen the transition from the old to the new.

Frankly, considering all the herculean efforts demanded by the project—a tremendous amount of resources and energy, the rigor of scrapping the old and installing the new—the adoption of a federal system of government looks doomed.

The other project is the restoration of the death penalty. The House of Representatives is obviously under pressure to come up with a law to the effect. The law will make sense only

if it would be applied to killings that are deliberate and intentional. A life for a life is a simple, straightforward equation. Unintentional killings, such as those caused by negligence or accidents must be excluded.

For heinous crimes involving no deaths, a commensurate penalty may be meted out, and this could be permanent incarceration without the benefit of parole and executive clemency.

The Catholic Church and prolife advocates claim that the law, which we already had before, did not deter the commission of crimes—a claim not supported by statistics or any factual basis. On the other hand, official records show that only about 200 heinous crimes were committed before the death penalty was abolished; after that, the incidence of heinous crimes dramatically soared. For this, there could be no sensible explanation other than the fact that the death penalty for taking someone’s life discourages a potential killer from pulling the trigger or thrusting the knife.

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Life is the flip side of death. If a life is taken away by someone who doesn’t respect its sanctity, then the murderer’s life must be taken away as well.

MANUEL BIASON, [email protected]

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TAGS: federalism, Inquirer letters, Inquirer Opinion, Rodrigo Duterte, war on corruption, war on crime, war on drugs
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