The Necessary Return of Death Penalty

All nation-states are built upon laws and to ignore the law – to throw it out the window – for the sake of the public good is to deprive a political system of its foundations. However, a state’s legal and judicial systems are founded upon the legitimating force of a social contract. For many, this social contract or the public trust given to government was long broken through decades of civic disempowerment and criminality within both the government and our society.

Yes, many of our fellow citizens believe that justice cannot be accomplished within the current judicial and penal systems; that the wealthy and the powerful can evade justice if not enjoy their time in prison as if they are merely on vacation. Yes, many believe that blood should be shed for the sake public security.

Yes, many are frustrated by the persistent corruption of the dignity and integrity of government offices. However, though these can neither be denied nor ignored, it cannot serve as a justification for allowing lawlessness and vigilante justice to take the guise of law implementation and overtake legislation.

Vigilante justice, though attractive for many since it can deliver the blood deemed by many as necessary for public security, cannot serve the purposes of strengthening the state by “restoring trust in the government” because it blurs the line between innocence and guilt as the foundation of justice. Under the rule of vigilante justice, the distinction between victim and perpetrator, between an ordinary law-abiding citizen and a criminal is subject to the whims of a few; whims that cannot be relied upon since human reason is by nature, not only limited but subject to caprice.

Thus, we now have cases of mistaken identities negating the oft-quoted dictum of “you have nothing to fear if you are following the law,” and prompting DILG Secretary Sueno to order immediate investigations on these killings.

The death of innocent citizens cannot be justified by the death of the guilty, but I will not contest the will of the majority nor will I bow down to blind radicalism, and for this reason, in order to fuse the current need for public security and vindication against people considered by many as the cancers of society (from drug pushers to corrupt politicians and exploitative businessmen), with the necessity of ensuring the rule of law and to further state-building through the development of our judicial and legal systems, I propose that the Death Penalty be re-instituted, supported by reforms in our judicial and penal systems (specifically the speed of court procedures and the proper imposition of punishments), and developments in the investigatory capacities of the police.

Simply put, let the blood of criminals flow through capital punishment after due process.

For the supporters of President Duterte, if you find my proposals as unrealistic, then you doubt the strength of the current administration to achieve such drastic changes in our political system; and for those against it, it is time to re-examine the political tendencies of our fellow citizens, especially the majority standing behind the current administration.

As far as public opinion is concerned, that is, the silence of the many, the stern and vocal support of those in social media, and the current level of trust towards the current administration and distrust towards the political system as a whole, the bulk of our society legitimized Duterte and his approach to criminality.

In line with this I reiterate my call to institutionalize this campaign against criminality, first by re-instituting Death Penalty and second by aligning capital punishment with Duterte’s promise in his SONA to “be sensitive to the State’s obligations to promote, and protect, fulfill the human rights of our citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable and social justice will be pursued, even as the rule of law shall at all times prevail” and that “Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country.”

In other words, there is a demand to replace universal human rights with a qualified form based upon the notion that human rights should only be enjoyed by those who are willing and able to respect the rights of others.

The implication of this is that capital punishment will be extended towards economic crimes (e.g. ranging from exploitative labor practices burdening our fellow workers to oligopolistic practices that distorts market prices causing widespread economic insecurities), and graft and corruption.

Now, is our society ready for such a change in the political system?