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(Message delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman of the First District of Albay at the 19th National Convention and Seminar of the Metropolitan and City Judges Association of the Philippines Inc. in Legazpi City on 21 September 2017)

 

Honorable Judges, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Considering that today marks the 45th Anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos on September 21, 1972, allow me to preface my message with relevant annotations on Marcos’ martial law regime.

The promulgation of martial law in the entire Philippines ignited the beginning of 14 ignominious years of power grab by Marcos wherein he was not only the overstaying Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines but also legislator and in most cases, judicial magistrate.

I vote against any extension of the martial law imposition under Proclamation No. 216 dated 23 May 2017 for three overriding reasons:

First, there is no sufficient factual basis for any extension in the same manner that there was no adequate factual anchorage for the original declaration of martial law under Proclamation No. 216.

What is happening in Marawi City is lawless violence amounting to terrorism, but not actual rebellion. The President and his subalterns failed to sufficiently show the element of culpable political purpose of the terrorist groups.

ORAL ARGUMENT

(Delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman before the Supreme Court en banc on 13 June 2017 on behalf of the Petitioners in G.R. No. 231658)

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

1. The latest survey of Pulse Asia from December 6 to 11, 2016 documents Filipinos’ aversion to the revival of martial law, with 74% against its imposition and only 12% in favor.

The survey results in Mindanao are even more revealing with 75% against and only 11% in favor, despite the fact that various acts of terrorism were committed in Mindanao proximate to the survey period, like the bombing of the Roxas Night Market in Davao City on September 2, 2016 which resulted in President Duterte’s declaration of a “state of lawlessness” over the entire country the following day.

Clearly, the people have not forgotten the atrocities, repression and corruption during the martial law regime of President Marcos.

By: Rep. Edcel C. Lagman

Three minutes is too short for the explanation of my dissenting vote. I shall therefore summarize my reasons and submit the full text for inclusion in the Journal.

Let me start by commending 53 colleagues who voted against the reimposition of the death penalty, 54 including my negative vote. I salute them for their courage in defying threats and pressures from the House leaders and remaining steadfast in promoting and protecting human rights.

I submit the two overriding reasons, among others, for voting against House Bill No. 4727:

1. The reimposition of capital punishment is an open defiance of our irrevocable commitment not to reimpose the death penalty as a State Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. We undertook under the Protocol not to execute anyone within our jurisdiction. Significantly, the Philippines became a State Party to the Protocol in 2007, a year after the country abolished the death penalty under R.A. No. 9346.

International law jurisprudence, covenants and authorities unequivocally declare that no country can use its domestic law, including its constitution, to renege on or violate its treaty obligations. This is consistent with the constitutional principle that the Philippines “adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land.”

2. The 1987 Constitution abolished the death penalty. However, it allowed the Congress to reimpose it for compelling reasons on heinous crimes. These two stringent conditions are separate but concurring.

The heinousness of a crime is not determinative of the compelling reason. They are not synonymous. The Congress must show separately the requisite factors of “compelling reasons” and “heinousness”. The proponents have failed to comply with the constitutional prerequisites.

No compelling reasons were shown why the death penalty must be reimposed on the drug-related offenses as the maximum penalty.

Even the 1988 UN Drug Convention, to which the Philippines is again a State Party, does not prescribe death penalty on drug-related offenses.

The International Narcotics Control Board has consistently advised countries not to impose the death penalty on drug offenses because the capital punishment violates the right to life. The death penalty does not address the various factors which influence the prevalence of the drug menace.

The unsubstantiated claim that the death penalty (a) is a fitting response to criminality; (b) it will restore respect for the laws; (c) it is a path to achieve justice; and (d) it is geared towards genuine reform in the criminal justice system, are not impressed with compelling reasons because: (a) data show that the rate of criminality has gone down and the death penalty is not a deterrent; (b) the SWS survey released on 31 January 2017 documented that the number of Filipinos who were victims of crimes have gone down to record lows; (c) punitive justice is not the avenue to achieve justice because vengeance is never justice; and (d) the imposition of capital punishment is not a precursor to judicial reforms.

The death penalty is an abhorrent punishment. It forecloses the reformation of the convict. It victimizes the poor. It is not the solution to criminality. It is not the answer to poverty and social injustice. It debases the right to life.

Pope Francis has declared that the inviolability of life extends to the criminal!

(Speech delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman on 07 February 2017 during the Plenary Session of the House of Representatives)

Mr. Speaker, the burden to indubitably show the urgency and necessity to reimpose the death penalty is on the proponents of House Bill 4727, which seeks to revive capital punishment because the state of the law since 2006 is that the death penalty has been abolished by RA No. 9346 of which I was the principal author and sponsor. The oppositors respectfully and diligently present the overview of the major grounds why the death penalty should not be reinstalled.

While no time is right and ripe for pushing for the reimposition of the death penalty, now is the worst of times to enact the revival of capital punishment when scalawag cops are the very felons, and rogues in robes preside over the life or death of citizens.

In an unprecedented move, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the crackdown on errant police elements and the dismantling of anti-narcotics groups, including Oplan “Tokhang”, in the wake of the police murder of a Korean businessman, not to mention the over 7,000 victims of extrajudicial killings.