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Common Moral Issues

Arguments against capital punishment, BBC Online. Undated. (17 February 2017)
Value of human life
Everyone thinks human life is valuable. Those Life should be preserved unless there is a very
against capital punishment believe that human good reason not to, but those who are in favour
life is so valuable that even the worst murderers of capital punishment have to justify their
should not be deprived of the value of their lives. position.
The value of the offender's life cannot be
destroyed by the offender's bad conduct - even if
they have killed someone.

Right to live A person can, by their actions, forfeit human

Everyone has an inalienable human right to life, rights, and that murderers forfeit their right to
even those who commit murder; sentencing a life.
person to death and executing them violates that
right. Example - a person forfeits their right to life if
they start a murderous attack and the only way
This is very similar to the 'value of life' argument, the victim can save their own life is by killing the
but approached from the perspective of human attacker.
The medieval philosopher and theologian
Thomas Aquinas made this point very clearly:
“Therefore if any man is dangerous to the
community and is subverting it by some sin, the
treatment to be commended is his execution in
order to preserve the common good... Therefore
to kill a man who retains his natural worthiness is
intrinsically evil, although it may be justifiable to
kill a sinner just as it is to kill a beast, for, as
Aristotle points out, an evil man is worse than a
beast and more harmful.”
Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae

Aquinas is saying that certain contexts change a

bad act (killing) into a good act (killing to repair
the violation of justice done by the person killed,
and killing a person who has forfeited their
natural worthiness by killing).

Execution of the innocent

The most common and most cogent argument
against capital punishment is that sooner or later,
innocent people will get killed, because of
mistakes or flaws in the justice system.

Witnesses, (where they are part of the process),

prosecutors and jurors can all make mistakes.
When this is coupled with flaws in the system it is
inevitable that innocent people will be convicted
of crimes. Where capital punishment is used such
mistakes cannot be put right.

Retribution is wrong Retribution is used in a unique way in the case of

Retribution is morally flawed and problematic in the death penalty. Crimes other than murder do
concept and practice. not receive a punishment that mimics the crime -
for example rapists are not punished by sexual
We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing. assault, and people guilty of assault are not
U.S. Catholic Conference
ceremonially beaten up.
To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge,
it is not justice.
Attributed to Archbishop Desmond Tutu -------
Vengeance In any case, is vengeance necessarily a bad thing?
Retribution is immoral because it is just a
sanitised form of vengeance. Scenes of howling The Victorian legal philosopher James Fitzjames
mobs attacking prison vans containing those Stephens thought vengeance was an acceptable
accused of murder on their way to and from justification for punishment. Punishment, he
court, or chanting aggressively outside prisons thought, should be inflicted:
when an offender is being executed, suggest that
vengeance remains a major ingredient in the “for the sake of ratifying the feeling of hatred-call
public popularity of capital punishment. it revenge, resentment, or what you will-which
the contemplation of such [offensive] conduct
But just retribution, designed to re-establish excites in healthily constituted minds.”
justice, can easily be distinguished from
vengeance and vindictiveness. Sir James Fitzjames Stephens, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
------ ------

Camus and Dostoevsky argued that the Life imprisonment without possibility of parole
retribution in the case of the death penalty was causes much more suffering to the offender than
not fair, because the anticipatory suffering of the a painless death after a short period of
criminal before execution would probably imprisonment.
outweigh the anticipatory suffering of the victim
of their crime.
Death penalty delivers a 'double punishment';
that of the execution and the preceding wait, and
this is a mismatch to the crime.
Failure to deter
The death penalty doesn't seem to deter people It's actually impossible to test the deterrent
from committing serious violent crimes. The thing effect of a punishment in a rigorous way, as to do
that deters is the likelihood of being caught and so would require knowing how many murders
punished. would have been committed in a particular state
if the law had been different during the same
The general consensus among social scientists is time period.
that the deterrent effect of the death penalty is
at best unproven.

The key to real and true deterrence is to increase

the likelihood of detection, arrest and conviction.
The death penalty is a harsh punishment, but it is
not harsh on crime.
Amnesty International

Deterrence is a morally flawed concept

Even if capital punishment did act as a deterrent,
is it acceptable for someone to pay for the
predicted future crimes of others?

Brutalising society
Brutalising the state Executions private or not teach the public
Capital punishment may brutalise society in a lessons about justice, retribution, and personal
different and even more fundamental way, one responsibility for one's own actions.
that has implications for the state's relationship
with all citizens.

...the state's power deliberately to destroy

innocuous (though guilty) life is a manifestation
of the hidden wish that the state be allowed to
do anything it pleases with life.
George Kateb, The Inner Ocean 1992

Capital punishment 'lowers the tone' of society ------

Death penalty is an inappropriate for a modern Just because two actions result in the same end
civilised society to respond to even the most does not make them morally equivalent. If it
dreadful crimes. were so, legal incarceration would be equated
with kidnapping, lovemaking with rape, self-
The murder that is depicted as a horrible crime is defense with battery, etc.
repeated in cold blood, remorselessly "The Death Penalty: Morally Defensible?". Casey Carmical.
Beccaria, C. de, Traité des Délits et des Peines, 1764 Undated. (19 February 2017).

Free will
The idea that we must be punished for any act of A person must be punished for any act of
wrongdoing, whatever its nature, relies upon a wrongdoing, whatever its nature, because he has
belief in human free will and a person's ability to free will and the ability to be responsible for his
be responsible for their own actions. own actions.

If one does not believe in free will, the question

of whether it is moral to carry out any kind of
punishment (and conversely reward) arises.

Arthur Koestler and Clarence Darrow argued that

human beings never act freely and thus should
not be punished for even the most horrific

In the USA capital punishment costs a great deal. (Countries with a less costly and lengthy appeals
procedure, capital punishment seems like a much
In New York and New Jersey, the high costs of cheaper option than long-term imprisonment.)
capital punishment were one factor in those
states' decisions to abandon the death penalty. Counter-arguments
New York spent about $170 million over 9 years  It is a fallacy that capital punishment costs more
and had no executions. New Jersey spent $253 than life without parole
million over a 25-year period and also had no 
executions. Source: Death Penalty Information Center  Justice cannot be thought of in financial terms

Cruel, inhumane, degrading

All ways of executing people cause so much

suffering to the condemned person that they
amount to torture and are wrong.

Lethal injection
This method has serious moral flaws and should
be abandoned because it requires medical
personnel being directly involved in killing (rather
than just checking that the execution has
terminated life). This is a fundamental
contravention of medical ethics.

The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Aiming at
the Abolition of the Death Penalty
The Supreme Court in Echegaray vs Secretary
of Justice declared that:
International law is merely equal to
“The Second Optional Protocol to the congressional enactments, nothing more and
International Covenant on Civil and Political nothing less.
Rights, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death
Penalty was adopted by the General Assembly on Like any law, international law as a source of
December 15, 1989. The Philippines neither rights and cause of action could be restricted or
signed nor ratified said document. Evidently, restrained, particularly if required by the State’s
petitioner's assertion of our obligation under police, eminent domain, or taxation powers. The
the Second Optional Protocol is misplaced.” application of a treaty’s provisions within our
jurisdiction, again as a source of a cause of action,
The above-quoted argument of the Supreme could be amended by a mere subsequent Republic
Court is no longer valid because the Philippines Act if Congress, in its discretion, decides to do so.
already signed the Second Optional Protocol.
Thus, declarations by officials that the
The Second Optional Protocol to the Philippines can’t do a certain measure because its
International Covenant on Civil and Political hands are tied by international law are false.
Rights (Protocol), aiming at the abolition of the Within our borders, the Philippines generally can
death penalty is the only international treaty of do what it wants even if such goes against
worldwide scope to prohibit executions and to international law: the Congress can enact laws, the
provide for total abolition of the death penalty. Executive branch can issue measures
This text, annexed to the United Nations’ implementing the law, and the Judiciary can rule
International Covenant on Civil and Political and uphold such law even if that law conflicts with
Rights (ICCPR) in 1989, requires the States that international law. This is because within our
ratify it to renounce the use of the death penalty jurisdiction the one dominant and primary
definitively. It is open for signature by any State standard is the Constitution. As long as that law is
party to the ICCPR constitutional, then - even if it is “violative” of
international law - such law is valid as far as the
Philippines (internally) is concerned.
Both the ICCPR and the Optional Protocols are
considered treaties under international law, and
thus parties to such agreements are bound to
International Law and Philippine law. Jemy Gatdula. Undated.
comply with them in good faith. (17 February 2017)
However, it provides for one exception: and-philippine-law.html
Countries who expressed reservations only
during the time of ratification or accession may Atty. Jemy Gatdula is a lawyer specializing in International
resort to the death penalty in times of war for Economic Law and Constitutional Law. He is a lecturer at the
University of Asia and the Pacific and is Executive Director of
those convicted of “a most serious crime of a Philippine Counsel for Foreign Relations.
military nature committed during wartime.”

The Philippines cannot claim the exception

because it did not make reservations when it
ratified the Second Optional Protocol. “[I]n no
case could death penalty be seen as acceptable
under this treaty.”

Statements of Prof. Harry Roque from:

Return of Death Penalty in PH ‘Volates’ International law,
Paolo Taruc, CNN Philippines. 2 August 2016. (18 February

The following are some of the Constitutional Issues passed upon by the Supreme Court in
Echegaray vs Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 132601, January 19, 1999

Death by lethal injection constitutes cruel, It is well-settled in jurisprudence that the death
degrading and inhuman punishment considering penalty per se is not a cruel, degrading or inhuman
that (1) R.A. No. 8177 fails to provide for the drugs punishment. In the oft-cited case of Harden v.
to be used in carrying out lethal injection, the Director of Prisons, this Court held that
dosage for each drug to be administered, and the "[p]unishments are cruel when they involve torture
procedure in administering said drug/s into the or a lingering death; but the punishment of death
accused; (2) R.A. No. 8177 and its implementing is not cruel, within the meaning of that word as
rules are uncertain as to the date of the used in the constitution.
execution, time of notification, the court which
will fix the date of execution, which uncertainties
Any infliction of pain in lethal injection is
cause the greatest pain and suffering for the
merely incidental in carrying out the execution of
convict; and (3) the possibility of "botched
death penalty and does not fall within the
executions" or mistakes in administering the
constitutional proscription against cruel, degrading
drugs renders lethal injection inherently cruel.
and inhuman punishment. "In a limited sense,
anything is cruel which is calculated to give pain or
distress, and since punishment imports pain or
suffering to the convict, it may be said that all
punishments are cruel. But of course the
Constitution does not mean that crime, for this
reason, is to go unpunished." The cruelty against
which the Constitution protects a convicted man is
cruelty inherent in the method of punishment, not
the necessary suffering involved in any method
employed to extinguish life humanely.
Any law reviving the capital penalty must be
Based on the doctrine of implied powers of
strictly construed against the State and liberally in
State, Congress has the authority to prescribe the
favor of the accused, because such a statute
means to carry into effect the rights expressly given
denigrates the Constitution, impinges on a basic
and the duties expressly enjoined by the
right and tends to deny equal justice to the
Constitution. The end being required, it is deemed
a just and necessary implication that the means to
accomplish it is given also.


(Article 6 of ICCPR)
Reimposition of the death penalty law violates
Indisputably, Article 6 of the Covenant enshrines
our international obligations, in particular,
the individual's right to life. Nevertheless, Article 6
the International Covenant on Civil And Political
(2) of the Covenant explicitly recognizes that
Rights, which was adopted by the General
capital punishment is an allowable limitation on
Assembly of the United Nations on December 16,
the right to life, subject to the limitation that it be
1996, signed and ratified by the Philippines on
imposed for the "most serious crimes".
December 19, 1966 and October 23,
1986,[41] respectively.
On July 27, 1982, the Human Rights Committee
Article 6 of the International Covenant on issued General Comment No. 6 interpreting Article
Civil and Political Rights provides: 6 of the Covenant stating that "(while) it follows
from Article 6 (2) to (6) that State parties are not
"1. Every human being has the inherent right to obliged to abolish the death penalty totally, they
life. This right shall be protected by law. No one are obliged to limit its use and, in particular, to
shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. abolish it for other than the 'most serious
crimes.' Accordingly, they ought to consider
2. In countries which have not abolished the death reviewing their criminal laws in this light and, in any
penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only event, are obliged to restrict the application of the
for the most serious crimes in accordance with death penalty to the most serious crimes.'
the law in force at the time of the commission of
the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the
present Covenant and to the Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out
pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a
competent court." (emphasis supplied)

3. When deprivation of life constitutes the crime

of genocide, it is understood that nothing in this
article shall authorize any State Party to the
present Covenant to derogate in any way from
any obligation assumed under the provisions of
the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment
of the Crime of Genocide.

4. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right

to seek pardon or commutation of the
sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of
the sentence of death may be granted in all-cases.

5. Sentence of death shall not be imposed for

crimes committed by persons below eighteen
years of age and shall not be carried out on
pregnant women.

6. Nothing in this article shall be invoked to delay

or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment
by any State. Party to the present Covenant."


At the core of the issue of death penalty is the inherent and inalienable right to life of every human
being. The recognition of this inherent right to life is one of the self-evident principles that inspired the adoption
of five (5) major international covenants collectively called the International Bill of Human Rights.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration decrees that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the
person." The Philippines is a proud signatory to this document.

Congress, in enacting RA 7659, failed to discharge its constitutional burden of proving the existence of
"compelling reasons" to prescribe death for "heinous" crimes. In batting for the unconstitutionality of said statute,
I summarized my reason as follows:
"1. The 1987 Constitution abolished the death penalty from our statute books. It did not merely suspend or
prohibit its imposition. With the abolition of the death penalty in 1987 Constitution, any means to carry it out is
without any basis and, therefore, is illegal.

"2. The Charter effectively granted a new right; the constitutional right against the death penalty, which is
really a species of the right to life.

"3. Any law reviving the capital penalty must be strictly construed against the State and liberally in favor of
the accused, because such a statute denigrates the Constitution, impinges on a basic right and tends to deny equal
justice to the underprivileged.

"(4) Every word or phrase in the Constitution is sacred and should never be ignored, cavalierly treated or
brushed aside.

"(5) Congressional power to prescribe death is severely limited by two concurrent requirements:
"(a) First, Congress must provide a set of attendant circumstances which the prosecution must prove beyond
reasonable doubt, apart from the elements of the crime and itself. Congress must explain why and how these
circumstances define or characterize the crime as 'heinous.'

"(b) Second, Congress has also the duty of laying out clear and specific reasons which arose after the effectivity
of the Constitution compelling the enactment of the law. It bears repeating that these requirements are
inseparable. They must both be present in view of the specific constitutional mandate -- 'for compelling
reasons involving heinous crimes.' The compelling reason must flow from the heinous nature of the offense.

"(6) In every law reviving the capital penalty, the heinousness and compelling reasons must be set out
for each and every crime, and not just for all crimes generally and collectively."


"If the deterrent case is to be accepted, ... we at least ought to be sure that it deters. If we are to hang
men and women by the necks until they are dead, we ought to do it on more than a hunch, a
superstition, a vague impression"
(United Kingdom parliament debate on the death penalty in 1983)

In 1988, a major report was submitted to
Death penalty is actually 100% effective as a
the United Nations by Roger Hood, Director of
deterrent to crime: the murderer will never commit
the Center for Criminological Research at
another crime once he has been executed. While
Oxford University in the United Kingdom. This
there is no proof that any innocents have been
study was prepared and published pursuant to
executed in this century, there is an abundance of
Economic and Social Council Resolutions
evidence that prisoners who either escaped or were
1986/10, section X and 1989/64-
released early murdered innocent victims again.
The study concluded that "xxx (the)
research has failed to provide scientific proof Professor Paul Cassell points out that:
that executions have a greater deterrent Out of a sample of 164 paroled Georgia murderers,
effect than life imprisonment." eight committed subsequent murders within seven
Such conclusion only confirmed the two years of release. A study of twenty Oregon murderers
earlier reports on the same subject matter. released on parole in 1979 found that one (i.e., five
percent) had committed a subsequent homicide
Other studies show that convicted within five years of release. Another study found that
persons did not remember thinking they might of 11,404 persons originally convicted of "willful
be sentenced to death before committing the homicide" and released during 1965 and 1974, 34
crime despite their knowledge of the death were returned to prison for commission of a
penalty. They found that it is incorrect to subsequent criminal homicide during the first year
assume that people who commit such serious alone.
crimes such as murder do so after rationally
calculating the consequences. "The Death Penalty: Morally Defensible?" Casey Carmical.
Undated. 19 February 2017.
Empirical evidence further shows that
murders are often committed in moments of
passion, when extreme emotion overcomes
reason or under the influence of alcohol or
drugs or in moments of panic. It was further
established that people who plan serious
crimes in a calculated manner to decide to
proceed despite the risk in the belief that they
will not be caught. In none of these cases did
fear of the death penalty deter the
commission of crimes. (Echegaray vs Secretary of
Justice, G.R. No. 132601. January 19, 1999.)

Crime rates have fallen even without the death


Many people justify the return of the death

penalty because of its purported ability to quell
the rising tide of criminality plaguing the
country. The idea is that executing felons for
committing heinous crimes will deter future
criminals, thus lowering crime rates.

But Figure 1 shows that from 1978 to 2008

there had been a general decline in the
Figure 1. Source: PSA, PNP. Note: Data cover 1978 to 2008. According
incidence of “index crimes”. These are crimes that
to the PNP, 'index crimes' are those considered to have socioeconomic
occur with “sufficient regularity” and have significance and 'occur with sufficient regularity to be meaningful'.
“socioeconomic significance”, including some These include the following crimes against persons (e.g., murder,
homicide, physical injury, rape) and crimes against property (e.g.,
“heinous” ones like murder and rape. robbery, theft, carnapping). Also note that the PNP made
methodological changes since 2009 making data thereon incomparable
to previous data.

Crime data are usually laden with many caveats, most notably underreporting. But despite these
limitations, Figure 1 suggests at least 3 things.

First, the supposed “rising tide” of criminality is more of a myth than a fact: index crimes have, in
fact, been falling steadily since the early 1990s.

Second, even in the years without the death penalty, the index crime rate had plummeted. Hence,
the death penalty is not necessary to see a fall in crime rates.

Third, even after a record number of executions in 1999 (when Leo Echegaray and 6 others were put
to death by lethal injection), no pronounced drop in index crimes was observed. The incidence of index
crimes even rose by 8.8% from 1999 to 2002.
(Why the death penalty is unnecessary, anti-poor, error-prone. JC Punongbayan and Kevin Mandrilla. Published 9:00 AM,
February 11, 2017. February 11, 2017)
Studies abroad could also not find strong
evidence the death penalty deters crime.

Many other countries also fail to see

compelling evidence the death penalty deters

In the US, for example, the death penalty

alone could not explain the great decline in
homicide rates observed in the 1990s.

Figure 2 shows that the homicide rates in

Texas, California, and New York had fallen at
roughly the same pace throughout the 1990s. This is Figure 2. Source: Nagin & Pepper [2012] Deterrence and the
despite the fact that these 3 states used the death death penalty. Washington, DC: The National Academies
Press. Note: Data cover 1974 to 2009.
penalty very differently: Whereas Texas executed
447 people over that period, California executed just
13 people, and New York executed no one.

Indeed, the US National Research Council concluded in 2012 that, “research to date…is not
informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases or has no effect on homicide
In Asia, a separate study reached the same conclusion when it compared the homicide rates in
Singapore (a country of many executions) and Hong Kong (few executions). More recent research
also shows that, instead of imposing harsher punishments, a higher certainty of being caught may be
more effective in deterring crime.

(Why the death penalty is unnecessary, anti-poor, error-prone. JC Punongbayan and Kevin Mandrilla. Published 9:00 AM,
February 11, 2017. February 11, 2017)

The (US) National Research Council( Deterrence and the Death Penalty) stated that studies claiming
that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on murder rates are “fundamentally flawed” and
should not be used when making policy decisions (2012).

about the Death
Penalty, 1015 18th St.
NW, Suite 704 Washington,
DC 20036

Previous death sentences were error-prone.

Too many Filipinos were wrongly sentenced to death before. This may be the single most damning
argument against the reimposition of the death penalty.

In the case of People of the Philippines vs. Mateo (2004), the Supreme Court admitted that a vast
majority of trial courts had wrongfully imposed the death penalty during the time it was available as a
sentencing option from 1993 to 2004 (only 25.36% of the cases reviewed were affirmed!).

Figure 4 shows that of the 907 death convictions that went to the Supreme Court for review, as many
as 72% were erroneously decided upon. These cases were returned to lower courts for further
proceedings, reduced to life imprisonment, or even reversed to acquittal. By detecting these errors, a
total of 651 out of 907 lives were saved from lethal injection.

Unless this alarmingly high rate of “judicial errors” is fixed, bringing back the death penalty will only
put more innocent people on death row.
Figure 4. Source: People v. Mateo, G.R. No.
147678-87, July 7, 2004. Note: Data were
collected by the Judicial Records Office of the
Supreme Court as of June 8, 2004.

(Why the death penalty is unnecessary, anti-poor, error-

prone. JC Punongbayan and Kevin Mandrilla. Published
9:00 AM, February 11, 2017. February 11, 2017)

Within the eleven-year period since the re-imposition of the death penalty law in 1993 until June
2004, the trial courts have imposed capital punishment in approximately 1,493, out of which 907 cases
have been passed upon in review by the Court.
In the Supreme Court, where these staggering numbers find their way on automatic review, the
penalty has been affirmed in only 230 cases comprising but 25.36% of the total number. Significantly,
in more than half or 64.61% of the cases, the judgment has been modified through an order of remand
for further proceedings, by the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law or by a reduction of the
sentence. Indeed, the reduction by the Court of the death penalty to reclusion perpetua has been made
in no less than 483 cases or 53.25% of the total number.
The Court has also rendered a judgment of acquittal in sixty-five (65) cases. In sum, the cases where
the judgment of death has either been modified or vacated consist of an astounding 71.77% of the total
of death penalty cases directly elevated before the Court on automatic review that translates to a total
of six hundred fifty-one (651) out of nine hundred seven (907) appellants saved from lethal injection.
(People vs Mateo. G.R. NO. 147678-87. 2004 July 7.)

Previous death sentences fell disproportionately on the poor.

One main reason behind this disparity is that rich inmates have much more resources to aggressively
defend themselves in court compared to poor inmates.

The death penalty, as applied in the Philippines before, was not only unnecessary in reducing crime
but also largely anti-poor: poor inmates were more likely to be sentenced to death than rich inmates.
Back in 2004 the Free Legal
Assistance Group (FLAG) did
a survey of 890 death row inmates.
Among other things, FLAG found that
79% of death row inmates did not
reach college and 63% were previously
employed in blue-collar work in
sectors like agriculture, transport, and

Most tellingly, two-thirds of death

row inmates had a monthly wage on
or below the minimum wage (see
Figure 3). Meanwhile, less than 1% of
death row inmates earned a monthly
wage of more than P50,000.
Figure 3. Source: FLAG (2004) 'Socio-economic profile of capital offenders
in the Philippines'. Note: Income brackets are in nominal terms
One main reason behind this disparity is that
rich inmates have much more resources to (Why the death penalty is unnecessary, anti-poor, error-prone. JC
Punongbayan and Kevin Mandrilla. Published 9:00 AM, February
aggressively defend themselves in court (e.g., 11, 2017. February 11, 2017)
hiring a battery of lawyers) compared to poor
inmates. Unless this imbalance is addressed, the
death penalty will only continue to be a vehicle for
“selective justice”.

Incompetent Counsels
Usually financially unable to pay for counsel, the court appoints counsel de officio for them. More
often, poor persons may not receive fair trails due to incompetent, inexperienced or ineffective
counsel. Thus, while the law is not discriminatory, the practical effect of the death penalty is
discrimination against the poor. (CHR Resolution on the ‘Re-examination of the Death Penalty.’ 6 March 1997.)
“Death Row inmates are served by a severely under-funded Public Attorney's Office (PAO), often
with disastrous results. Condemned men say they are railroaded into prison with limited or no
representation. FLAG cites cases in which public attorneys advise clients to plead guilty to obtain a
lighter sentence, unaware that the charges carry a mandatory death sentence. PAO acknowledges that
its 877 attorneys receive no special training on capital cases. It also notes that besides handling death-
sentence cases, public defenders are involved in more than 350,000 civil and criminal cases each year,
as well as millions of consultations, filings and mediation matters.” (Waiting to Go. Ron Gluckman, Asiaweek
Magazine, July 23, 1999.)'Penalty.htm


Death penalty results to even more clogged dockets. The automatic review of the Supreme Court
significantly increases its already heavy workload, thus, contributing to the slow and costly
administration of justice.
There is no empirical study done on the cost of litigation involving death penalty cases in the
Philippines. Inference may be made, however, that the automatic review of the Supreme Court in cases
where death penalty was imposed by the lower courts necessarily involved more cost to the
government and to the accused.

However, studies done in the US as to the real cost of death penalty are enlightening.
The Financial Costs of the Death Penalty

Death penalty cases are much more expensive than other criminal cases and cost more than
imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole. In California, capital trials are six times more costly
than other murder trials.(1) A study in Kansas indicated that a capital trial costs $116,700 more than an
ordinary murder trial.(2) Complex pre-trial motions, lengthy jury selections, and expenses for expert
witnesses are all likely to add to the costs in death penalty cases. The irreversibility of the death
sentence requires courts to follow heightened due process in the preparation and course of the trial.
The separate sentencing phase of the trial can take even longer than the guilt or innocence phase of
the trial. And defendants are much more likely to insist on a trial when they are facing a possible death
sentence. After conviction, there are constitutionally mandated appeals which involve both
prosecution and defense costs.

Most of these costs occur in every case for which capital punishment is sought, regardless of the
outcome. Thus, the true cost of the death penalty includes all the added expenses of the "unsuccessful"
trials in which the death penalty is sought but not achieved. Moreover, if a defendant is convicted but
not given the death sentence, the state will still incur the costs of life imprisonment, in addition to the
increased trial expenses.

What Politicians Don't Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty. Richard C. Dieter. Undated.

•A new study in California revealed that the cost of the death penalty in the state has been over $4
billion since 1978. Study considered pretrial and trial costs, costs of automatic appeals and state habeas
corpus petitions, costs of federal habeas corpus appeals, and costs of incarceration on death row.
(Alarcon & Mitchell, 2011).

•Defense costs for death penalty trials in Kansas averaged about $400,000 per case, compared to
$100,000 per case when the death penalty was not sought. (Kansas Judicial Council, 2014).

Facts about the Death Penalty. DEATH PENALTY INFORMATION CENTER. 1015 18th St. NW, Suite 704
Washington, DC 20036.
 Justice cannot be thought of in financial terms

Research by University of Minnesotta sociology-anthropology professor Scott Vollum and colleagues
found ambivalence in co-victims’ (family members) reactions to capital punishment. Their study
showed that only 2.5 percent achieved true closure, and 20.1 percent said that the execution did not
help them heal. Co-victims in the study also expressed feelings of emptiness when the death penalty
did not “bring back the victim.”

The long judicial process between conviction and execution, which can span many years in some
cases, also prolongs grief and pain for co-victims. Uncertainty prevails in the face of appeals, hearings,
and trials, while increased publicity inherent in death-penalty cases exacerbates co-victims’ suffering.
Through media exposure, they repeatedly relive traumatic events.

Pain and anger, especially, are common in the wake of tragic loss and can be accompanied by an
overwhelming desire for revenge. Some co-victims in the Vollum study voiced that the death penalty
was not harsh enough, while others communicated a wish to personally inflict harm on the condemned.
In the majority of cases though, executions were not sufficient to satisfy these desires.

“More often than not, families of murder victims do not experience the relief they expected to feel
at the execution,” states Lula Redmond, a Florida therapist who works with surviving family
members. “Taking a life doesn’t fill that void, but it’s generally not until after the execution that families
realize this.”

A death sentence can polarize the two families, obstructing healing for both. However, in a number
of cases, co-victims actually expressed sympathy for family members of the condemned, often
empathizing with the experience of loss.

When life sentences were given, rather than capital punishment, a 2012 Marquette University Law
School study showed improved physical and psychological health for co-victims, as well as greater
satisfaction with the justice system. The authors hypothesize that survivors “may prefer the finality of
a life sentence and the obscurity into which the defendant will quickly fall, to the continued uncertainty
and publicity of the death penalty.”

Would co-victims move through the natural healing process more rapidly if they were not dependent
on an execution to bring long-awaited peace? Perhaps the execution as an imagined endpoint for
closure only leads to more grief in the meantime.

The realities of capital punishment may be poorly suited for healthy grieving and healing.

The Trauma and Mental Health Report. Robert T. Muller &Caitlin McNair.
Last, F. M. (Year, Month Date Published). Article title. Retrieved from URL.

Muller, Robert T. Ph.D. “Death Penalty May Not Bring Peace to Victims' Families.” Psychology Today. 19
October 2016.


1. Amnesty International (AI)|argued that the reimposition of the death penalty could affect the
country's position when it asks foreign countries to commute sentences of Filipinos who are
given the death penalty abroad.
2. Weaker than the argument of deterrence is the argument of retribution to justify the death
The argument propelled by unthinking emotion. While
Certain people deserve to be
the desire for vengeance can be understood, its exercise
killed as repayment for the evil done;
deserves an impassioned consideration for retribution
and that there are crimes so offensive
makes impossible demands on our justice system. Biases
that killing the offender is the only just
inherent in all legal systems and unavoidable errors of
response. (Echegaray vs Secetary of
human judgment preclude a system which can mete out
death in a fair and fail proof way.

In the US, Thorsten Sellin "examined statistics on

prosecutions, convictions and executions for murder and
concluded that 'retributive capital justice is tainted by bias
and influence of factors beyond the control of courts of
justice, such as the poverty of the defendant, which
prevents him from engaging competent counsels skilled in
the art of criminal defense.'"
By ruling out mitigating circumstances and refusing to
consider the limitations of any attempt to define crimes,
mandatory death sentences render judicial fairness even
more difficult to achieve. The inevitable result will be an
arbitrary threshold for deciding who lives and who
dies. (Echegaray vs Secetary of Justice)
3. Decline in the number of U.S. executions.


YEAR LOW Executions continued their historic
decline in 2016, with 20 executions carried out
by just five states. It was the fewest number of
executions in the U.S. since 1991 and the
fewest number of states carrying them out
since 1983

Right To Life Not Subject To Popular Vote

It is to be sadly noted that when there is a public-clamor (or clamor of people in power) to stop
the rising tide of criminality, the death penalty is always suggested as a quick fix solution. The issue of
whether the State has the right to kill should not, however, be resolved on the basis of popularity poll
(subject to the mere whim of the administration). Right and righteousness are not based on what is the
fashion of the day. We cannot give a blind eye to the enlightened argument that the way to deter
crime is not to increase the severity of punishment but to increase the likelihood of detection, arrest
and conviction. We cannot be indifferent to the internationally accepted view that rehabilitation and
reformation of criminals ought to be our main penal goal. Let us hearken to the wisdom of Article 10 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that the "penitentiary system
shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social
It is not too much to ask that we rejoin the mainstream of civilized nations.

(Dissenting Opinion: Echegaray vs Secetary of Justice)

The death penalty is a naïve way of dealing with criminality

The death penalty can be assailed on many grounds, whether moral, philosophical, or legal. But just
by focusing on the available data, it is apparent that the death penalty, as used in the past, was largely
unnecessary and ineffective in reducing crime.

Even assuming for a moment that it was a deterrent, the death penalty tended to discriminate
against the poor and was subject to alarmingly high error rates.

It is no wonder that so many countries around the world today have abolished the death penalty
rather than retained it. As of 2015, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

Crime is a more complex and nuanced issue than many of our politicians will care to admit.
Reinstating the death penalty – and equating death with justice – is a patently naïve and simplistic way
of going about it.

(Why the death penalty is unnecessary, anti-poor, error-prone. JC Punongbayan and Kevin Mandrilla. Published
9:00 AM, February 11, 2017. February 11, 2017.)

JC Punongbayan is a PhD student and teaching fellow at the UP School of Economics. Kevin Mandrilla is an MA
student at the UP Asian Center