According to Republic Act 7659 or the Death Penalty Law, An Act to Impose Death Penalty on Certain Heinous Crimes, Amending for that Purpose the Revised Penal Laws and for Other Purposes, specifically Art. 335, “The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:
1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.
2. …x x x
Because of the foregoing, Echegaray was found guilty.
For death penalty to apply, the offense committed must be a heinous crime which, according to the law, must be grievous, odious and hateful and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society.
It is not only the crime of rape that is punishable by death. Other crimes, depending on their attendant circumstances, like treason, qualified piracy, parricide, murder, kidnapping, robbery and arson also carries with it the penalty of death.
On June 24, 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act no. 9346 or “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines. Because of this, the Arroyo government has gained criticisms. To the aggrieved parties – condemnation and to the accused and sentenced to death – Hope!
But for me, it is therefore necessary for us to consider both sides of the issues before jumping into a desirable conclusion.
The following are the cited disadvantages of the law: (1) death penalty fails to rehabilitate.
It is not true that when there is “fear of death” it will prevent one from committing a crime because most crimes are done on the “heat of passion”, that is when a person cannot think rationally.
(2) Death penalty failed as a deterrent. Death is one penalty which makes error irreversible and the chance of error is inescapable when based on human judgment. Contrary to public belief, the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to crime based on studies and researches conducted. “Expert after expert and study after study have emphasized and emphasized the lack of correlation between the threat of the death penalty and the occurrence of violent crime”(Meador 69).
Actual statistics about the deterrent value of capital punishment are not available because it is impossible to know who may have been deterred from committing a crime.
(3) Death penalty does not discourage crime. Everyday there are many reports of robbery hold-up, murder and kidnapping. It is noted that what we need is an extreme penalty as a deterrent to crime. This could be a strong argument if it could be proved that the death penalty discourages murderers and kidnappers.
(4) Conviction of the innocent occurs. “It is better to free a criminal than kill an innocent man”. Conviction of the innocent does occur and thus resulted to miscarriage of judgment and it is irrevocable.
(5) Death penalty violates human dignity/rights. An argument against the death penalty is the basic moral issue of conservation of human rights and humanity. The argument of retribution would be even easier to dismiss if it consisted only of a base thirst for revenge. According to the opponents of the death penalty, “it demeans the moral order and execution is not legalized murder – nor is imprisonment legalized kidnapping – but it is the coldest, most premeditated for of homicide of all. It does something almost worse than lowering the state to the moral level of the criminal: it raises the criminal to moral equality with the social order” (Hertzberg, 49). Indeed, one of the ironies of death penalty is that it focuses attention and sympathy on the criminal.
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