By OLGA LAUZON and JEOFFREY MHAR LARUA
BAGUIO CITY – A protest action was held in the University of the Philippines – Baguio (UPB) last March 7 to express the students’ dismay over the ongoing cases of state-perpetrated violence, in light with the decision of the House of Representatives to reinstate the death penalty.
Lead by the Alliance of Concerned Students, students from different organizations expressed their reasons why they are against capital punishment.
Rostum Alanas of Amnesty International Philippines – UPB said that the government should be for the respect and fulfillment of basic human rights, thus by passing the death penalty bill, the government is going against its basic mandate. He added that contrary to what the government said, death penalty has been proven ineffective in deterring crime.
“Death penalty will end lives but it will not end crime,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Alyssa Mamuyac of the League of Filipino Students called for the continuation of the suspended peace talks between the GRP and NDFP. She said that the declaration of All-Out War will only result to the violations to the human rights of ordinary civilians and activists in the legal movement. She added the recent case of Sarah Abellon-Alikes, who was illegally detained last February 9.
Anakbayan – UPB member Sherwyne Sanchez reiterated the call against mandatory ROTC and to completely abolish the program. According to Sanchez, ROTC breeds the AFP’s culture of violence and fascism among student cadets, and is a form of militarization in educational institutions.
The program ended with a candle lighting ceremony to signify the students’ mourning for the loss of lives and hope should the death penalty bill be approved in the Senate.
No ample deliberation
The regional formation of youth group Anakbayan here, meanwhile, stressed that the proceedings for the death penalty bill lacked sufficient debates in the house floor, saying it “bypassed democratic processes” in the lower house.
“It is alarming to know that democratic legislative processes were not able to smoothly run its course. We somehow expected the house approval of death penalty bill but this is far too early if proposals of anti-death penalty solons were considered,” said Luke Bagangan, Anakbayan Cordillera’s secretary-general, in a statement.
According to the youth group, the issue on the bill’s passage lies no longer in its morality, but also whether the country’s judicial system “truly upholds fairness.”
Anakbayan fears that the policy may become selective as evident with the Duterte administration’s ‘war on drugs’ that targets small-timers compared to “impunity-protected” drug lords. The youth group also predicts that, with the passage of the bill, the government can easily crack down on political activists critical of the administration. # nordis.net