Statement of CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the withdrawal of the House of Representatives of its approval of imposing death penalty for drug possession
The Commission on Human Rights recognises the need to address the sale and use of illegal drugs due to its ill effects to individuals, families, and our communities at large. Even before, the Commission have expressed its qualified support—mindful of our questions on its means—to the government’s drive to address illegal drugs with the vision of providing a better life to all as a human right.
However, while House Bill 8909 strengthens RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, it largely disregards the fact that the imposition of capital punishment has been suspended since former President and current Speaker of the House Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed RA 9346 in 2006, which was then celebrated as a triumph of human rights in the Philippines.
In this regard, the Commission continues to express its strong opposition to any move that would reintroduce death penalty in the Philippines. Crimes must be punished. But achieving justice is not simply about imposing harsh punishments, but rather ensuring that a responsive penal system is in place.
Any proposal advocating for the reimposition of capital punishment also runs against the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which seeks to abolish death penalty across countries. The Philippines ratified this international statute in 2007.
To this end, we remind the government to uphold its international commitments, as well as its mandate to the Filipino people to respect and protect human rights, which includes preventing regressive policies from dampening our wins in championing human dignity. ###
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