rep tom villarinThis representation from Akbayan casts a negative vote on House Bill No. 4727— a bill that seeks to revive capital punishment for drug-related offenses, and ultimately reeks of both rational and moral bankruptcy.

Make no mistake: The death penalty will not make our communities any safer. We reiterate that in the absence of any evidence that would prove death penalty as an effective deterrent to crime—heinous or otherwise—a person’s right to life must stand supreme.

No crime is worth killing for—especially when the task of condemning a fellow Filipino to death will be undertaken within the context of a flawed criminal justice system. Flawed—from enforcement, prosecution, and adjudication—because none other than the Supreme Court revealed in a review of cases from 1993-2004 that 646 Filipinos could have been wrongfully executed due to erroneous decisions rendered in our lower courts. Fast forward more than a decade after, we all found ourselves at the mercy of a law enforcement agency that is “corrupt to the core,” as President Duterte admitted, only after a foreign businessman was brutally murdered by the very people who swore to serve and protect us. These are the people who will execute this policy, and our fellow Filipinos.

As such, some words of caution: Expect that many of those to be condemned to certain death are the poor precisely because they do not have access to quality legal services, unlike the rich and powerful, who are running the country’s criminal organizations. Expect repercussions from the community of nations as we go against the trend for abolition, and insist on breaking agreements forged by our words of honor. In forcibly passing this bill, we risk losing more than USD1.6 billion in trade yearly, and 200,000 jobs that came with our solemn vow of abolishing the death penalty and protecting the value of human life. Expect future generations to thrive in an environment of violence, impunity, and retribution, as we move closer towards igniting a vicious cycle of vengeance instead of justice.

But as far as Akbayan is concerned—together those who bravely stood for true justice—we will not let this happen. Expect us to continue the fight, if only to save even an innocent life from suffering a gruesome death.

For these reasons, this representation proudly votes AGAINST the death penalty.  ###

Tokhang 2Despite assurances from PNP Chief Bato de La Rosa, Tokhang Part 2 will not be bloodless because the policy itself, which codified murder through the term "neutralization", is an illegal and violent policy in nature.

Tokhang and Doubel Barrel do not talk about apprehension and rehabilitation, they just order police forces to neutralize elements suspected of involvement in drugs.

Sa polisiyang Tokhang at Double Barrel, inuna ang pagiging guilty ng tao at nasa suspek ang bigat para patunayan na sila ay inosente. Binaligtad ang prinsipyo ng due process at delikado ito dahil mas madaling mag-akusa kaysa magpairal ng hustisya.

Imbis na palakasin ang batas, sa Oplan Tokhang at Double Barrel, ang sagot ay dahas.

rep tom villarinDi dapat mauna ang karitela sa kabayo.

This was the message of Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin during the period of amendments to House Bill No. 4727, after being deliberately—albeit irresponsibly—watered down to include only drug-related crimes.

“Now that the crimes have been reduced to drug-related ones, shouldn’t the amended substitute bill be recommitted to the Committee on Dangerous Drugs?” he asked.

Villarin cited Section 28 (k) of the Rules of the House, which states that the Committee on Dangerous Drugs has authority over all “matters directly and principally relating to illegal and prohibited drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, the production, manufacture, use and trafficking thereof, as well as the rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents.”

“Hindi dapat mauna ang karitela sa kabayo. How can we properly discuss the penalty if we won’t tackle the nature of the crimes?” the solon added.

akbayan2014Babalik tayo sa EDSA hangga’t mailap ang hustisya.

Justice for the poor and marginalized whose interests have been neglected and abused will always make the commemoration of People Power 1986 not only a necessity, but a duty.

In the face of increasing repression and the culture of violence and death that the Philippines faces under the Duterte administration, fulfilling this duty is not only crucial and immediate – it is literally a matter of life and death.

With more than 7,000 poor people ending up dead in the streets in the name of an insane campaign against illegal drugs, human life has been cheapened and rendered disposable by no less than the government, while big time crime lords and plunderers are accommodated and privileged.

akbayan2014We are alarmed that the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Sen. Leila de Lima signals an administration deploying strong arm tactics against its critics. De Lima's impending arrest is the administration's way of flexing its power by using state machinery against those who oppose its policies.

It is therefore in our collective interest to defend our democracy against this bullying and brazen abuse of power. We must resist tyranny whether it is exercised against one, or many.

We reiterate that the cases against Sen. De Lima are hearsay and have no basis in fact. It is political persecution, nothing more., nothing less.

We call on all freedom-loving citizens to guard against the excesses of those in power who meet principled dissent with terror and violence. If this persecution can be leveled against a duly elected official, it can be repeated against anyone.