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DEATH PENALTY IN THE PHILIPPINES:

A COMPARATIVE STUDY

A Research Proposal
Presented to
DR. ARTHUR S. VELASCO, LLM, DCL
Professor
POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
COLLEGE OF LAW

In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements for the Course
LEGAL WRITING

By
JUNA LUZ B. LATIGAY
CHRISTIAN JOY P. CARABBACAN
ED AL RENZI B. SALLES
ARVIN JAY C. VILLANUEVA
ELNERI SHERYN B. MARQUEZ

March 2017

ABSTRACT
This is a descriptive type of research that aims to provide an in depth

analysis of the death penalty. Specifically, this study seeks to identify the

difference between the old death penalty and the one currently pending before

the Congress, the significant difference in the socio-political standing of the

Philippines before and after death penalty was suspended, the necessity to

impose death penalty in the current Philippine setting,the problems encountered

by the previous government in the execution of the old death penalty, and the
solutions that may be advanced to address the problems encountered in the past

for better execution of the proposed reimposition of death penalty.

The researchers will be using the provisions of the old death penalty and

the one currently pending before the Congress to derive the difference between

the two. To determine the significant socio-political difference between the period

where death penalty was imposed and suspended as well as the problems

encountered by the previous government, the researchers will use comparative

analysis of jurisprudence, statistics, news articles and other sources to extract

the information.

The study aims to promote awareness as far as death penalty is

concerned. It aims to clear up confusions and provide a more detailed and

thorough discussion as to why or why not death penalty is needed in the current

Philippine setting. It aims to give not just law students but as well as the general

public of what this bill entails and what it might bring about. Furthermore, this

research aims to determine whether or not death penalty has an impact in the

socio-political standing of the Philippines.

The study is limited to death penalty as how it used to apply in the


Philippines. It will cover the era when death was imposed as penalty for crimes

considered as heinous, such as rape and murder. Lastly, this study is only

limited to death penalty in the Philippine jurisdiction.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

TITLE PAGE

. i
ABSTRACT .

.ii

TABLE OF CONTENTS

. iv

CHAPTER

THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING

Introduction
1

Statement of the Problem

Objectives of the Study

Significance of the Study

. 5

Scope and Delimitation

Definition of Terms

... 6

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES

Synthesis of Related Literature and Cases

. 7

Conceptual Framework .
15

Conceptual Paradigm

16

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

Research Method

...17

Sources of Data

..18

Data Gathering Procedure

.18
LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE

PAGE

1 Conceptual Paradigm of the Study

..16
CHAPTER I

THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND

Introduction

The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth

Century B.C. in the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon which codified the death

penalty for 25 different crimes, the death penalty was also part of the Fourteenth

Century B.C. Hittite Code, Draconian Code of Athens in Seventh Century B.C.,

which made death the only punishment for all crimes and in the Fifth Century

B.C.s Roman Law of the Twelve Tablets. Death sentences were carried out by

such means as crucifixion, drowning, beating to death, burning alive, and

impalement.

Death penalty in the Philippines can be traced back during the Spanish

Colonial Era. Among the personalities sentenced to death, some of them are the

famous GomBurZa, who were guillotined, and the Philippines national hero, Dr.

Jose P. Rizal, who was executed through firing squad.

Death Penalty has been formally incorporated in our laws between 1946
and 1965, the year late Ferdinand Marcos became President, when 35 people

were executed, mainly convicted of particularly savage crimes marked by

senseless depravity or extreme criminal perversity. Following the EDSA

People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos from power, the then President

Corazon Aquino promulgated the 1987 Constitution, which abolished the death

penalty unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, Congress

hereafter provides for it.

In 1993, Congress passed RA 7659 or the Death Penalty Law, which


reimposed capital punishment for crimes such as murder, rape, big-time drug

trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, treason, piracy, qualified bribery, parricide,

infanticide, plunder, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with

violence or intimidation, qualified vehicle theft and arson. Subsequently, in 1996,

through RA 8177, the law was amended prescribing death penalty by lethal

injection for offenders convicted of heinous crimes.

Opposition from human rights advocate groups stimulated when

controversial executions in the year 1999 and 2000, during the term of the then

President Joseph Estrada, started such as the execution of Leo Echagaray on

February 9, 1999, who was convicted of raping his stepdaughter, and Alex

Bartolome on January 4, 2000, who was convicted of raping her daughter more

than 100 times over two years, starting when she was 16.

It was then in 2006, when the abolition of the Death Penalty in the

Philippines occurred, when the then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sing RA

9346 or otherwise known as An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in

the Philippines.
Afterwards, questions of revival of death penalty in the Philippines were

raised being raised in the Congress. It is now during the term of President

Rodrigo Duterte where death penalty is in the process of materializing being it

part of his campaign in eradicating crimes, especially those crimes relating to

illegal drug abuse.

The House of Representatives approves on 3 rd and final reading the

contentious death penalty measure, House Bill No. 4727. Among the

Congressmen of the House, 2016 voted in affirmative, 54 voted in negative and 1


voted in abstention.

The bill allows of either life imprisonment or death penalty for 7 drug-

related crimes. It also allows to be done either through hanging, firing squad, or

lethal injection. With that, different opinions as to the necessity and urgency, as

determined by the House of Representatives, of the death penalty to be imposed

again elicited from different groups advocating human rights. It is where the

purpose of this study is deeply rooted, in order to clarify issues circulating in the

public.

Statement of the Problem

The study is a comparative analysis of the old death penalty and the new
one pending in the Congress. Specifically, it attempts to answer the following

questions:

What is the difference between the old death penalty and the

one currently pending before the Congress?

Is there a significant difference in the socio-political standing of

the Philippines before and after death penalty was suspended?

Is it necessary to impose death penalty in the current Philippine


setting?

What problems were encountered by the previous government

in the execution of the old death penalty?

What solutions may be advanced to address the problems

encountered in the past for better execution of the proposed

reimposition of death penalty?

Objectives of the Study

The study will be conducted to have a comparative analysis of the old

death penalty and the new one pending in the Congress. Specifically, it aims to:

Determine the difference between the old death penalty and the

one currently pending before the Congress.

Determine if there is significant difference in the socio-political

standing of the Philippines before and after death penalty was

suspended.
Know the necessity to impose death penalty in the current

Philippine setting.

Identify the problems encountered by the previous government

in the execution of the old death penalty.

Identify solutions that may be advanced to address the

problems encountered in the past for better execution of the

proposed reimposition of death penalty.

Significance of the Study

The study aims to promote awareness as far as death penalty is

concerned. It aims to clear up confusions and provide a more detailed and

thorough discussion as to why or why not death penalty is needed in the current

Philippine setting. It aims to give not just law students but as well as the general

public of what this bill entails and what it might bring about. Furthermore, this

research aims to determine whether or not death penalty has an impact in the

socio-political standing of the Philippines.

Scope and Delimitation

The study is limited to death penalty as how it used to apply in the

Philippines. It will cover the era when death was imposed as penalty for crimes

considered as heinous, such as rape and murder. Lastly, this study is only

limited to death penalty in the Philippine jurisdiction.


Definition of Terms

For better understanding of this study the following terms are defined

operationally:

Death Penalty. It is the punishment of execution administered to someone

legally convicted of heinous crime.

Heinous Crime. It is an action that is not just illegal but is also considered

as hateful or reprehensible.

Human Rights. Inherent rights believed to belong justifiably to every

person including but not limited to right to life, liberty and property.

Socio-Political Standing. It is the durability and integrity of a current

government regime determined based on the amount of violence and terrorism

expressed in the nation by citizens associated with the state.

CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES

This chapter presents the discussion of the relevant literature and cases.
Synthesis of Related Literature and Cases

R.A. No. 7659, also known "An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on

Certain Heinous Crimes, Amending for that Purpose the Revised Penal Laws, as

Amended, Other Special Penal Laws, and for Other Purposes" was approved on

December 13, 1993 in line with the goal "to rationalize and harmonize the penal

sanctions for heinous crimes, finds compelling reasons to impose the death

penalty for said crimes" as stated in the whereas clauses. This reimposed the

capital punishment since the Marcos era, which was shortly suspended after the
promulgation of the 1987 Constitution. In this law, crimes punishable by death

included murder, rape, big-time drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, treason,

piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, infanticide, plunder, kidnapping and serious

illegal detention, robbery with violence or intimidation, qualified vehicle theft and

arson. This law, which prevailed prior to the suspension of death penalty on

2006, is very different to the objectives of the House Bill No. 01pending in the

House of Representatives. The said bill, known as "An Act Imposing the Death

Penalty on Certain Heinous Crimes, Repealing for the Purpose Republic Act No.

9346, Entitled "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the

Philippines" and Amending Act No. 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the

"Revised Penal Code," and other Special Penal Laws, has drawn criticisms for

only including drug-related offenses as compared to the previous iterations of

imposition of death penalty, which coincides with current policy standing of

incumbent President Rodrigo RoaDuterte.

Historically, capital punishment has been used in almost every part of the

world. Currently, the large majority of countries have either abolished or

discontinued the practice. In the Philippines, question whether capital

punishment will have a deterrent effect in crimes or will just decrease the value of
human life.

Whereas on 23rd of September 2002, in Pagdayawon vs. The Secretary of

Justice the Philippine Supreme Court dismissed questions on the constitutionality

of the Death Penalty Law (Republic Act No. 7659), in relation to the Lethal

Injection Law (R.A. 8177). The Philippine Supreme Court noted:

1. The death penalty is not a cruel, unjust, excessive or unusual

punishment. It is an exercise of the states power to secure society against

the threatened and actual evil.

2. The offenses for which RA 7659 provides the death penalty satisfy the

element of heinousness by specifying the circumstances which generally

qualify a crime to be punishable by death.

3. RA 7659 provides both procedural and substantial safeguards to insure

its correct application.

4. The Constitution does not require that a positive manifestation in the

form of a higher incidence of crime should first be perceived and

statistically proven before the death penalty may be prescribed. Congress

is authorized under the Constitution to determine when the elements of

heinousness and compelling reasons are present, and the Court would

exceed its own authority if it questioned the exercise of such discretion.

The case of Leo Echegaray, the first Filipino to be meted death penalty

through lethal injection after the reinstatement of death penalty in 1993, has

sparked controversy with its implementation. Echegaray was accused rape of

his 10-year-old stepdaughterRodessaand was convicted by Branch 104 of the

Regional Trial Court in Quezon City on 7 September 1994, with the death
sentence automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court and affirmed on 25 June

1996. He filed a motion for appeal, which but was denied. The debate for and

against the death penalty had been vigorous after his case. In fact, in Echagaray

vs. Secretary of Justice, the Philippines Supreme Court noted:

A last note. In 1922, the famous Clarence Darrow predicted that "x xx the

question of capital punishment has been the subject of endless discussion

and will probably never be settled so long as men believe in


punishment."In our clime and time when heinous crimes continue to be

unchecked, the debate on the legal and moral predicates of capital

punishment has been regrettably blurred by emotionalism because of the

unfaltering faith of the pro and anti-death partisans on the right and

righteousness of their postulates. To be sure, any debate, even if it is no

more than an exchange of epithets is healthy in a democracy. But when

the debate deteriorates to discord due to the overuse of words that

wound, when anger threatens to turn the majority rule to tyranny, it

is the especial duty of this Court to assure that the guarantees of the

Bill of Rights to the minority fully hold. As Justice Brennan reminds us

"x xx it is the very purpose of the Constitutionand particularly the Bill of

Rightsto declare certain values transcendent, beyond the reach of

temporary political majorities."Man has yet to invent a better hatchery

of justice than the courts. It is a hatchery where justice will bloom

only when we can prevent the roots of reason to be blown away by

the winds of rage. The flame of the rule of law cannot be ignited by

rage, especially the rage of the mob which is the mother of

unfairness. The business of courts in rendering justice is to be fair

and they can pass their litmus test only when they can be fair to him
who is momentarily the most hated by society.

However, on 24th of June 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed

into law R.A. 9346 entitled An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in

the Philippines. This law is equally important because for more than a decade,

the country never used capital punishment as a matter of recognizing the

mandate of the country to fulfill its obligations with the international community,

as well as to preserve the sanctity of human life and extend the right to life even
to criminals who committed heinous crimes. Internationally, the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations (UN)

General Assembly recognizes and upholds fundamental rights, including the right

to life. The Philippines is also bound by the Second Optional Protocol to the

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a UN Treaty that the

country signed in 2006 and ratified a year later without reservations. Adopted by

the UN General Assembly in 1966 and enforced in 1976, the ICCPR obligates

countries that ratified it to protect and preserve basic human rights, primarily the

right to life. Having signed and ratified the protocol, the Philippines commits to

the abolition of death penalty definitively.

R.A. No. 9346, however, as explained in the book of Leonor Boado "Notes

and Cases On The Revised Penal Code (Books 1 and 2)", states that it:

"...merely modifies the penalty imposable for the crime covered by R.A.

No. 7659 but does not affect the provision itself on how the crime is

committed. It does not affect the provision of R.A. 7659 on Art. 267

making the killing, rape, torture, ransom-payment, etc., of the victim as

qualifying circumstances in kidnapping. It merely made the penalty

imposable thereon as reclusion perpetua. However, for all intents and


purposes, the graduation of penalty between simple kidnapping and

kidnapping with homicide has been erased. Thus, it does not make any

difference now whether or nor the kidnap victim is killed or raped. It can

therefore be asserted that the new law is an absolutory cause insofar as

the penalty is concerned because the kidnapper can now go ahead and

kill the victim after ransom is paid for impunity for the penalty will be the

same anyway. The same can be said of other provisions of the Revised

Penal Code and of the special laws such as qualified carnapping." (p.
210)

Also from the same book, he explained how those convicted of death

penalty are ineligible for parole:

The Indeterminate Sentence Law prescribes that "the court shall sentence

the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which, in

view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under

the rules of the said Code, and the minimum which shall be within the

range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the

offense." The purpose of the prescription of minimum and maximum

periods is to effect the privilege granted under the same law, for prisoners

who have served the minimum penalty to be eligible for parole per the

discretion of the Board of Indeterminate Sentence, Thus, convicts

sentenced to suffer death penalty or life imprisonment are ineligible under

that law, as are persons sentenced to reclusion perpetua, an indivisible

penalty without minimum or maximum periods. (People vs. Tubongbanua)

(p. 211)

The case of People of the Philippines vs. Quiachon (G.R. 170236, 31


August 2006) involves an accused who raped his 8-year old daughter, a deaf-

mute. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty

should have been death. With the abolition of the Death Penalty, however, the

penalty was reduced to reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole under

the Indeterminate Sentence Law.

The case of People of the Philippines vs. Santos (G.R. 172322, 8

September 2006) involves the rape of a 5-year old child. The accused was meted

the penalty of death because rape committed against a child below seven (7)
years old is a dastardly and repulsive crime which merits no less than the

imposition of capital punishment under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code.

The sentence was also reduced to reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of

parole.

The case of People vs. Salome (G.R. 169077, 31 August 2006) involves a

rape of a 13-year old girl (who got pregnant), committed in a dwelling and with

the aid of a bladed weapon. The imposable penalty should have been death, but

with the abolition of the Death Penalty, the Supreme Court reduced the penalty to

reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole.

The case of People of the Philippines vs. Tubongbanua (G.R. 171271, 31

August 2006) involves the murder of a victim who suffered 18 stab wounds which

were all directed to her chest, heart and lungs. Considering the existence of the

qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation and the aggravating

circumstances of dwelling, and taking advantage of superior strength without any

mitigating circumstance, the proper imposable penalty would have been death.

However, with the abolition of the death penalty law, the penalty imposed was

reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole.


In Mateo, the Supreme Court first allowed an intermediate appeal to the

Court of Appeals in criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is death,

reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment (or lower but involving offenses

committed on the same occasion or arising out of the same occurrence that gave

rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of death, reclusion

perpetua, or life imprisonment is imposed). Before, cases involving the said

penalties are raised on automatic review directly to the Supreme Court.

While the Fundamental Law requires a mandatory review by the Supreme

Court of cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua, life

imprisonment, or death, nowhere, however, has it proscribed an intermediate

review. If only to ensure utmost circumspection before the penalty of death,

reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment is imposed, the Court now deems it wise

and compelling to provide in these cases a review by the Court of Appeals before

the case is elevated to the Supreme Court. Where life and liberty are at stake, all

possible avenues to determine his guilt or innocence must be accorded an

accused, and no care in the evaluation of the facts can ever be overdone. A prior

determination by the Court of Appeals on, particularly, the factual issues, would

minimize the possibility of an error of judgment. If the Court of Appeals

should affirm the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, it

could then render judgment imposing the corresponding penalty as the

circumstances so warrant, refrain from entering judgment and elevate the entire

records of the case to the Supreme Court for its final disposition.

Statistics would disclose that 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.

Conceptual Framework

The study will show that an in depth comparative analysis of the old death

penalty and the new one pending in the Congress can be determined through

actual research activity. The relationship between and among the variables in the

study is being illustrated in the paradigm, Figure 1.

The first box is the variable input that shows the comparative analysis of

the old and the new proposed death penalty.


The second box is the variable output that shows the significant

differences of the old and new proposed death penalty and better understanding

of their applicability in the Philippines.

The third box is the variable feedback that shows the effective measures

to develop the application of death penalty.

Effective measures for efficient application of the law.

Feedback
Comparative Analysis of the old death penalty law and the new one pending in

the Congress.

Significant differences of the two and better understanding of their applicability.


Figure 1
Conceptual Paradigm of the Study
CHAPTER III

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

This chapter presents the research method the researchers utilized, the

sources of data, the data gathering procedure, the research instrument used and

the statistical treatment the researchers used to interpret the data.

Research Method

The descriptive method of research will be used in this study. Descriptive

method of research is a fact-finding study with adequate and accurate

interpretation of the findings. It describes what is and describes with emphasis

what actually exist such as current conditions, practices, situations or any

phenomena. Since the study deals the analysis of death penalty and how it

affected the Philippine society then and now, the descriptive method of research

was found to be the most appropriate to use.

To determine the difference between the difference between the old and

the new death penalty including the change in the socio-political standing of the

Philippines at the time of its imposition as compared to the time of its suspension,

its necessity of imposition in the current Philippine setting, as well as in

determining the problems encountered during its imposition before and possible

recommendations that can be gleaned therefrom , the researchers will content

analysis as a research technique. Content analysis is a method that deals with

documentary materials are already existing and available, used for the objective,

systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of

communication.
Sources of Data

The primary sources of data will be jurisprudence laid down both by

Philippine and international courts. This will also include provisions from the 1987

Philippine Constitution and the previous and current legislation pertaining to

death penalty. Books, dissertations, journals, PDF files, dictionaries, and online

articles will also be utilized as references.

Data Gathering Procedure

The researchers will be using the provisions of the old death penalty and

the one currently pending before the Congress to derive the difference between

the two. To determine the significant socio-political difference between the period

where death penalty was imposed and suspended as well as the problems

encountered by the previous government, the researchers will use comparative

analysis of jurisprudence, statistics, news articles and other sources to derive the

information.