Congressman Cesar Sarmiento last weekend defended his “yes” vote for the passage of the controversial death penalty bill at the House of Representatives, saying that the extreme punishment for heinous crime actually values the sanctity of life.
In a breakfast meeting with some members of the local media, the Catanduanes representative argued for the constitutionality of the bill, saying that the measure does not allow the imposition of the death penalty except for compelling reason, especially heinous crimes.
He said illegal drugs and drug-related crimes does not only affect an individual but entire families, it destroys the community. In a sense, Cong. Sarmiento added, the death penalty measure values the sanctity of life.
“It is a message also to the perpetrators of crimes that the government will not tolerate the killing of innocent victims,” he stressed.
He likewise cited the humanitarian aspects of the bill, noting that the death penalty would not be imposed if, at the time of the commission of the offense, the accused was either below 18 years of age or over 70 years old. Upon conviction, the case of the accused is subject to automatic review by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, where the majority vote is required to sustain the conviction. The murder convict is also eligible for executive clemency from the president.
The solon also emphasized that from the time the information is filed with the Court, the prosecutor is required to immediately furnished copies of the charge to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), religious sector and civic organizations. The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) would then convene senior government lawyers to handle the defense of the accused.
A facebook post of the interview by GMA News stringer Jinky Tabor generated mostly unfavorable comments from netizens.
“How about Rape?? Murder? Plunder? Congressman… bakong heinous crime an, ngata DRUG related offense sana kamo tabi nagfocus? Apurahon ang death penalty bills na an… 3 days pas pas..,” said one. “Dae ako ga balib sa pariwanag mo tabi, tabhaw mababaw…”
Val Ryan Solero: “Mas dapat ilagay sa death penalty ang mga plunderer! Mas madami silang buhay na inaapakan.”
Ronald Bernardo: “Mga pulitiko makasipsip lang sa admin lahat lulunukin. You can brainwash only the gullible people. Paki-post ng datos to support your claim that majority of your constituents supports DPB.”
Bernia T. Valenzuela: “NATAKOT MAG ‘NO’ SA DEATH PENALTY SI CONG. CESAR SARMIENTO… BAKA KASI TANGGALAN SYA NG CHAIRMANSHIP SA CONGRESO… SYA BAGA ANG CHAIRMAN OF HOUSE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION.”
Pert Pastor Jr.: “For the benefit of the province, our beloved Congressman voted YES to DPB. His one vote will not stop the DPB compared to the benefits our province will get.”
Noli Turbolencia: “Takot lang yan mawalan ng chairmanship at etc. No need to explain everybody knows especially in our province of Catanduanes… Period.”
Jufflin Asuncion Calalo: “How can you value the sanctity of life by Death Penalty? Are the lives of those sentenced to death not sacred? What if they’re innocent? DP is contrary to its international human rights obligation. Studies have proven that DP does not deter crime. ‘It is a message also to the perpetrator of crime that the Government will not tolerate the killings of innocent victims.’ But how many people have died in the war on drugs? Are they all liable to be punished? Given this lethal mix of DP and far from perfect justice system, social inequalities and abuse of power, it will only dispatch the most defenseless and risk innocent people being sentenced to death. Disappointed with your stand, sir. I do not support DP. All lives are sacred.”
Cora Soriao Tejerero Rojas: “Kung ang drug cases bako sanang sarong tawo ang naaapektuhan, bako daw na ang plunder siling man? Puro sana drugs, drugs, drugs ang nahihiling.”