Press Release
May 2, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said he does not think that the proposed anti-terrorism act will lose its potency if it does not impose the death penalty on offenders.

Pimentel said the imposition of life imprisonment as the maximum punishment on convicted terrorists without the benefit of parole or pardon, as provided for in the Senate version of the anti-terrorist act, is enough to strike fears in the heart of terrorists or would-be terrorists.

In my opinion, it is not the severity of the penalty, but the efficiency of police work and the criminal justice system, that will deter the commission of crimes, he said.

The minority leader pointed out that there is no death penalty in Israel which has been at the forefront of combating terrorism, especially because of its unending conflict with the Palestine Liberation Organization over territories taken by Israel from the Palestinians.

Pimentel said the European Union has been effectively waging war against terrorism despite the abolition of the death penalty among its member-countries.

On the other hand, he observed that all kinds of terroristic activities are taking place in Iraq where the death penalty exists.

I will steadfastly oppose the death penalty especially now that even children are being used by rebel and extremist organizations in carrying out terrorist missions, including suicide bombings, he said.

Pimentel rejected the claim by some anti-crime crusaders that the failure to execute convicted heinous crime offenders should be blamed for the alarming rate of kidnapping-for-ransom, rape and murder in the country.

He said that authoritative studies, even in the United States, have shown that the death penalty does not necessarily curb criminality.

According to the opposition leader, he openly supported of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos decision to reduce all death sentences to life imprisonment despite their political differences because he has long ago adopted a pro-life position.

I have always maintained that life is sacred and is always worth saving regardless of the expense, Pimentel said.

He said that the death penalty was based on the old Roman dictum of an eye-for-an-eye kind of retribution. But he pointed out that this directly runs counter with the constitutional principle against cruel and unusual punishment in the country.

That is why, Pimentel said there is no law in the country that allows the cutting off of the hands of thieves or the sex organ of the male rapists.

What can be more cruel than the snuffing out of ones life? he asked.

Pimentel said that even in the United States, there is an ongoing debate on the wisdom of implementing the death penalty.

He cited the pending petition with the US Supreme Court questioning the execution of death convicts by lethal injection. He said it was pointed out in the petition that lethal injection is not as painless as it is being presented to be.

There are three stages to lethal injection. First is to deaden the senses. The second is to stop the heart from beating. And the third is the injection of the lethal concoction itself. But in the transition from stage one to stage three, the executioners have observed the pain inflicted on the convict although he could not express it anymore, he said.

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