Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dissonance on the Passing of the Death Penalty

Article III or the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Philippine Constitution solidly protects our rights as citizens. For this post I am making today I am invoking Article III Section 4 of the constitution,
"SECTION 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

I am in disagreement with the vote my house representative made for the death penalty bill. Congressman Gus Tambunting, District 2, Paranaque City, voted to approve death penalty. The explanation he provided is most alarming based on the tweet shared by fellow Paranaqueno Raj Bay. The congressman explained based on the exchange that he voted based on the survey that was run in Paranaque. Three thousand six hundred citizens out of the 358,231* population in district 2 were purportedly surveyed on their thoughts about death penalty. The tweet explained that it was what the Paranaque citizens wanted. (Do take note that it's been a good 7 years since the population data has been updated.)

I did a short review of computing sample size for doing research (it's been awhile since I had special training on research with Dr. Ned). If the survey they ran was aiming for a 95% confidence and a 1.63 confidence interval (margin of error), then 3,600 should be about right as representation for the population. It would be really interesting to see the actual results of the survey and to know how they determined the sample. Where did they do the survey? And when did this happen? If you read the exchange between the congressman and Raj Bay he had asked the citizen if he was an expert on doing surveys so he could join the team the next time they do another survey. I do not think this was an appropriate question as the citizen was just asking for an explanation on his vote.

Death penalty is not like any other law. It is a law that would result in the loss of life. I wonder if the good congressman considered other factors aside from the survey. How did they determine what are heinous crimes? Who has given the State the right to kill? Did they even consider the ramifications of this law on our relations internationally? Isn't death penalty a crime against humanity?

At this point those who would be penalized with death penalty would presumably go through due process. The 7,000+ people that have been killed in the last 9 months had this right stripped of them -

"ARTICLE III SECTION 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized." (1987 Philippine Constitution)

Each one of us, no matter whether we are rich or poor, have this right to be secure. There has been no due process with EJKs in the last 9 months. The obvious goal is to just get rid of drug addicts and pushers. But for death penalty, what is its purpose? As it is there has been no due process with the EJKs, what do we need death penalty for?

I am putting forward this strong dissonance to the vote my congressman did to pass death penalty and I think more than 3,600 Paranaquenos would agree that this was a very bad decision that was made by our congressman (and the other 216 too).

*Population data from 2010 survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority