Philippine Standard Time
Monday, June 10, 2019, 2:18:54AM

In Defense of the Right to Life: International Law and Death Penalty in the Philippines

A study by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and Dr. Christopher Ward, SC, Australian Bar, Adjunct Professor, Australian National University

CHR Statements

16th World Day Against Death Penalty Recommendations/Ways Forward on the SWS Survey on the Death Penalty

Commissioner Karen S. Gomez Dumpit

From all of these findings, I can sum up all our learnings into one thing. FACTS FORM OPINION. And the reverse is also true, alternative facts, fake news also form opinion.

From this exercise, the Commission learned that if people are presented with facts, they can make informed conclusions. Using the iceberg model, we looked into what is underneath the tip of the iceberg.

It is very important to surface everything that’s beneath the waters in order to get to the core of an issue—in this case, the death penalty. We also combined this with aspects of “deliberative polling” to ensure that the people are able to make informed choices. This survey is the first of its kind in the Philippines and will start a new way of doing things.

This method also shows us that if people are given options, their responses will be more diverse, and can convey what they truly believe in. In this case, we were able to support existing studies that debunk the myths about the death penalty. We were also able to prove that dealing with the death penalty issue, should be more than just asking whether to reimpose it or not. Our survey showed that if people were given a choice, 7 out of 10 would not choose the death penalty. And so, this should be a reminder for us all. We have to frame our issues, in a way that gives our people alternatives.

We also have to note that there were instances when the answers of the people had contradictions, as where we found that 6 out of 10 believe that death penalty can only be imposed if the courts can show that they are certain not to wrongfully sentence an innocent person to death; but at the same time 6 out of 10 also believed that it is very possible that the courts would wrongfully sentence people accused of doing a crime. In this instance, we are made aware of the need to work more for our advocacy.

Anti-death penalty advocates would need to step up and be unrelenting in raising awareness to inform the public about alternatives to the death penalty, and also about restorative justice. It’s also good to note that the people’s most trusted who upholds human rights and dignity, are the teachers.

We also know where they get their news the most, on TV and a consistently rising source is social media. We are directed by this knowledge not only to focus on teachers but also on the youth as right to life ambassadors to further our cause of building a nation that upholds the protection and promotion of the right to life.

At the end of the day when we keep on keeping on, we are able to say that there is hope for all; there is hope for life; and hope for the Filipino people.


Media Cards

Death Penalty in the Philippines and the Human Rights Council

Session Symbol Year In favor Abstain Against
36th Regular Session (11-09-2017 to 29-09-2017 ) A/HRC/RES/36/17 2017
26th Regular Session (10-06-2014 to 27-06-2014) A/HRC/RES/26/2 2014

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