Death Penalty in the Philippines

You probably know what a death penalty is, right? Well, it’s a very crucial punishment that the government has done before to people who have violated the law. For example, if you committed a crime, before, then you would go to jail but now you would die. It was terrible, really. But, there is a threat that the death penalty might return to the Philippines soon.

Timeline of the death penalty (in the Philippines):

It all started a long, long, long time ago.

1800 – 1890: The Spanish Periods

The 18th century is when the death penalty was first implemented in the Philippines. It was the Spanish who started it all. Their reason was to lessen the riots and rebellions. This was known as the Spanish Period. What the Spanish colonizers first did was bring to the Philippines with them a system known as the Europe’s penal system. The penal system is when people get punished for violating laws. The punishments in the penal system include crucial executions like burning, decapitation, drowning, skinning, garrote (the process of which people were killed by strangulation), hanging, shooting, stabbing and others. I was displeased by the fact that people would actually kill others with such excruciating pain; I was displeased by the fact that people would actually kill one another if they didn’t like the other person. As 1848 passed, the death penalty and the other (very cruel) punishments were only said to impose on locals who challenge or disrespect the authority of the colonizers. Now, the people who are enshrined as heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal, Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora have meted the death penalty and executed. There is actually a movie with Dr. Jose Rizal of how he died and why he is a hero.

1898 – 1934: The American Periods

Nope. It still wasn’t over.

Sadly, the American colonizers still retained and kept the death penalty. Also, they (the American colonizers) adopted the Codigo Penal of 1848, at least most of the provisions. In 1932, the Codigo Penal was revised which considered treason, parricide, piracy, kidnapping, murder, rape and robbery (with homicide) as capital offenses and should people who has any of the offenses were to get dealt with a death penalty. Force used against ALL nationalist Filipinos were sanctioned with the Sedition Law (1901); Brigandage Act (1902); Reconcentration Act (1903); and Flag Law (1907), according to the PCIJ Blog.

Of course, there were so many angry people at the time because they thought it was a terrible choice to kill and torture for stealing and others. A man known as Macario Sakay lead a resistance group and later on was sentenced to die by being hanged in public because of it. So what the American authority did was continue the punishments and torture to forcibly put an end to any resistance.

Also, did you know that it was the Americans that introduced the Philippines to electrical chairs? America and the Philippines are the only countries that actually have this type of torturing machine. It sounds crazy, I know.

1965 – 1986: Marcos Years

Ferdinand Marcos was a Filipino politician and a president who ruled from 1965 to 1986. From 1972 to 1981, under martial law, he ruled as a dictator. And, here are some points from PCIJ:

  • “Deterrence” became the official justification for the imposition of the death penalty. This is the same justification used for the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.
  • The number of capital crimes increased to a total of 24. Some crimes which were made punishable by death through laws and decrees during the Marcos period were the subversion, possession of firearms, arson, hijacking, embezzlement, drug-related offenses, unlawful possession of firearms, illegal fishing and cattle rustling.
  • Jaime Jose, Basilio Pineda, and Edgardo Aquino were executed for the gang rape of movie star Maggie de la Riva in 1972. Despite prohibitions against public executions, the execution of the three was done in full view of the public.
  • Nineteen executions took place during the Pre-Martial Law period. Twelve were executed during Martial Law.
  • Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. was sentenced to die by firing squad for charges of murder, subversion and illegal possession of the firearm in 1977.
  • The last judicial execution under the Marcos years was in October 1976 when Marcelo San Jose was executed by electrocution.
  • Similar to the reasons for the imposition of capital punishment during the Colonial Periods, the death penalty during the Marcos Regime was imposed to quell the rebellion and social unrest.

1986 – 1992: Time to Chill

Finally, the death penalty was abolished with the 1987 constitution. And, because of this great big step, Philippines became the first Asian country that allowed all crimes to be death penalty free. Everything was down to either life sentences in jail or just short time in jail but death penalty left the Philippines.

Now: ???

There is a huge possibility that the death penalty might come back to the Philippines, again. Before, the 21 crimes that were listed for the death penalty were:

  • Treason
  • Qualified piracy
  • Qualified bribery
  • Parricide
  • Murder
  • Infanticide
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping and serious illegal detention
  • Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons
  • Destructive arson
  • Importation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
  • Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
  • Maintenance of a drug den, dive, or resort
  • Manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
  • Possession of dangerous drugs
  • Cultivation or culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs or are sources thereof
  • Unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs
  • Criminal liability of a public officer or employee for misappropriation, misapplication, or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors, and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment including the proceeds or properties obtained from the unlawful act committed
  • Criminal liability for planting evidence concerning illegal drugs
  • Carnapping

Then after the House Caucus, the list was reduced to 4 crimes to be punished with death penalty. But, now, President Duterte announced that the death penalty that he is trying to revive will only be implemented to drug – related crimes. According to CNN, when asked if he (President Duterte) thought the removal of plunder from the list of crimes contradicted his anti-corruption campaign, Duterte clarified he had only vowed to stop corruption — and not to kill plunderers. It is just a matter of time before we find out if death penalty will come back to the Philippines.

Yours truly,