Recently, conversations have resurfaced regarding the reimposition of the death penalty in the Philippines. I’m not the most politically engaged person, nor am I a math expert, but I do know that justice isn’t served by putting two wrongs together to make one right. When it comes to criminal acts violating human dignity and rights, there are a lot of gray areas where solutions shouldn’t be quick fixes based on simple addition alone. That said, the death penalty is a severe violation of human dignity and objective truth. If we truly respected others, then we would do everything in our power to help them become better versions of themselves instead.
Viewing the death penalty from a third-world country’s position places poverty-stricken individuals at a disadvantage. The Philippines’ broken legal and criminal justice system enables only 20% of Filipinos to access legal help as of 2018. Despite all attempts to reform the system through intents of the better provision of legal services, numerous people continue to suffer due to police brutality and in many instances, cases go unreported. The death penalty’s reliance on a flawed legal system benefits the narrative of those in power and increases the likelihood of wrongful conviction. It has cost the lives of individuals without access to legal representation, highlighting socioeconomic disparities in our society.
The imposition of the death penalty in the Philippines eyes lethal injection as a method of execution. As one of the most widely-used methods, it requires health professionals to administer it and pharmaceutical companies to supply it. It was adopted because it “seemed more humane than other methods” yet most people within the medical community are aware of how painful the administration of potassium chloride is without proper dilution. Nobody would be able to tell if the prisoner is in pain because the pancuronium bromide would paralyze them. The addition of the element of medical practice does not make it a more ethical practice for the result of execution clearly harms the convicted person without any benefit. This inhumane practice poses an unnecessary risk of pain and disregards the physician’s code and their duty of preserving life.
At the end of the day, a human being’s life is priceless. No equation would justify the death penalty as a humane method of execution and its disadvantages outweigh its benefits. Giving the government the power to take life is simply an unethical solution and is a dangerous extension of its power. How does it make us any better if we subtract empathy in the equation? One morally wrong act done after another does not solve the problem. Often, the system fails to account for the factors that contribute to a criminal’s actions and condemns them with no proper understanding of their circumstances.
As a student nurse and citizen advocating for human rights, I firmly believe in the power and potential of human improvement through criminal rehabilitation. Although it takes time and patience, attaining justice has never been easy – successful movements span years, decades, centuries, and countless setbacks. It is more complex than simple addition for a true commitment to justice stretches beyond anger towards trending hashtags and news, it persists in full force through the most challenging obstacles.
Published: June 4, 2021
This piece was written by Andrea Fortuna, a World Youth Alliance Certified Member from the Philippines