'NOT IN OUR NAME'----Book shows folly of death penalty

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'NOT IN OUR NAME'----Book shows folly of death penalty

Post  Jennie on Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:10 pm

'NOT IN OUR NAME'----Book shows folly of death penalty

The widespread incidence of violent crimes like the bank robbery-massacre in Laguna has sparked calls to revive the death penalty. Now comes a book that shows its folly.

"Not in Our Name: The Story of the Abolition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines," bears this terse message: Capital punishment doesn’t deter crime; swift justice does.

The book, published by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), chronicles the 13-year struggle of the lawyers’ group and a host of allies, including the Church and families of death row convicts, to get the law repealed after it was revived in 1994 under the Ramos administration.

FLAG launched the book-cum-documentary on Tuesday at the UP College of Law in Quezon City to mark the second anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in the country.

"It's important that people know [about the death penalty] because the way we see it -- the death penalty is not totally foreclosed," FLAG national chair Jose Manuel Diokno said after the launch. "It could be returned in the future and if it is returned ... we would like the younger people to know what they can do about it."

Diokno said the book was relevant now because there exists the mindset that death by lethal injection would send chills down the spine of criminals and would deter them from committing crimes.

Make the system work

"The reason people want the death penalty is because they're not happy with our system of justice. They see that the system of justice doesn't work so they want a solution," he said. "[But] the death penalty is not the right solution. The real solution is to make our system of justice work."

The 150-page book was written by Joan Orendain and published with the financial support of the New Zealand Embassy.

It begins with FLAG lawyer Theodore Te's account of the tense moments during the execution of Leo Echegaray (convicted of raping his stepdaughter when she was 10) on Feb. 5, 1999, and ends with the signing into law of Republic Act No. 9346 prohibiting the imposition of death penalty by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 24, 2006.

In between, the book details the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty, the coming together of several sectors to form the Coalition Against Death Penalty (CADP), lobbying the lawmakers, among others.

"When we started the anti-death penalty campaign, everybody was laughing at us. There was no way this could be abolished [we thought then]. Public opinion was about 99 % pro-death," Diokno said.

Their hard work not only led to the repeal of the law, it also brought about personal change.

"The fight was not painless. There was a lot of suffering involved. And even we ourselves, those who were actively involved in the anti-death penalty, were changed in fighting this fight," Diokno said in his talk.

And since there are bills seeking to impose the death penalty on certain types of heinous crimes, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, anti-death penalty advocate, issued this caveat: "At no moment, must we lower our guard."

(source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

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