Amid continued reports of killings, the falling out of the peace talks, and the recently “suspended” all-out war against illegal drugs which left around 7,000 Filipinos dead, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin reminded the government that a “reign of peace” in the country remains far from reach.
“Lest we confuse ‘reign of peace’ with ‘reign of death,’ we cannot turn a blind eye on the culture of violence that still prevails,” the opposition lawmaker said.
Instead, the Akbayan solon urged the Duterte administration to seriously address the pressing issues of the Filipino people through effective humanitarian means.
“Violence begets violence. Let’s continue the talks in the spirit of achieving just and lasting peace,” Villarin remarked.
He also said that the government must address the root causes of rebellion, terrorism, and even the drug trade, which are results of massive poverty, joblessness, and high inequality.
“All-out wars take lives. All-out development can improve lives,” he added.
Peace claim and push for ‘punitive bills’ irreconcilable
The lawmaker also stressed that if there were indeed a “reign of peace,” then it is no longer necessary for the administration to vigorously push for punitive bills such as the restoration the death penalty, and lowering the age of minimum age of criminal responsibility to supposedly deter rampant criminality, as previously claimed by the administration.
“Claiming that there is peace while citing chaos to impose extreme penalties simply betrays reason and common sense,” Villarin remarked.
He also believes that growing opposition to said measures has led the administration and its allies to “soften” the punitive bills by limiting the array of crimes punishable by death, slightly increasing the age of criminal responsibility to 12, from the original nine.
“Death penalty—in any form and for whatever crime—is unacceptable,” Villarin reiterated.
He also said that holding anyone below the age of 15 criminally responsible is just as unacceptable.
Instead, he called for the full implementation of existing laws such as the Juvenile Justice Act of 2006; full compliance of Congress in appropriating sufficient funds; and of the executive branch in promptly disbursing resources for local government units to likewise comply.
For the Akbayan solon, it is also imperative to restore the faith of the Filipino in the rule of law and its institutions, including the Philippine National Police, which is currently embroiled in the high-profile murder of a Korean businessman, among others.
“At the end of the day, everyone deserves to have a good night’s rest—but not to rest in peace,” Villarin said. ###