Editorial – Follow the Philippines

The central government’s apparent desire to change from brutal firing squad to lethal injection for death row inmates is not good enough; it should get rid of the medieval death penalty altogether, and set a new precedent among our neighboring nations here in Southeast Asia.

Even in execution-happy America, increasing numbers of states are calling a temporary halt to the grisly practice amid claims that the lethal injection procedure in use may cause excruciating pain as it is being administered.

Nearer to home, the compassionate Philippine president, Gloria Arroyo, last year banned any further enactments of capital punishment, valiantly abolishing the punishment altogether.

“It gives the Philippines a well-deserved niche as one among Asia’s leading human rights advocates in the global map,” lawmaker Etta Rosales said at the time.

“The abolition of capital punishment addresses the basic right to life and the dignity of the human person. It anchors the entire criminal justice process on the principle of rehabilitative and restorative justice, no matter how heinous are the crimes committed by the offenders of the law. It directs society and its government towards a vision that makes the right to one’s humanity a universal reality,” she said.

Our neighbor Singapore, meanwhile, has done itself few favors with its rigid use of the death penalty.

In Indonesia, the government persists with the death penalty, with some 90 people on death row, some of them Australians here in Bali, according to Amnesty International, which rightly points out that executing people is not a deterrent to future crimes being committed.

With crimes of passion or otherwise, being killed by your country for your misdeeds are almost never on people’s minds when the event occurs – otherwise crime rates would be negligible.

Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh said earlier this month that Indonesia was mulling changing from its inhuman firing-squad policy – in which the condemned is taken to a remote location in the early hours and shot in the heart – to death by lethal injection, a foolhardy change given the rolling controversy over that method in the US.

“First the person will be injected until they are unconscious; then they will be injected with poison,” the attorney general said, adding that death by firing squad often proved problematic, as oftentimes it required repeated shootings to kill the person – and sometimes they had to be shot in the back of the head to get the job done.

If that’s not brutally cruel, we don’t know what is. And that’s not even taking into account any possible miscarriages of justice that may be discovered after the person’s death.

Follow the Philippines, and repeal.

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