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Death penalty alternative proposed

A pro-life lawmaker has proposed a new alternative to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s death penalty by hanging and that is lifelong imprisonment with “productive labor.”

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza sought to file a bill that would impose “qualified reclusion perpetua” to convicts, which means that they would stay in prison for an absolute minimum of 40 years, or until he or she attains the age of 70 years, whichever comes first, before becoming eligible for possible parole.

“Our alternative is tantamount to locking up a convict and throwing away the key,” he said in a statement, maintaining his opposition against the “reckless” revival of the death penalty.

He said his bill seeks to define a new mode of life imprisonment for serious offenders. “Just the same, we categorically maintain that raising the certainty of punishment, as opposed to increasing the severity of the penalty itself, is the strongest deterrence to potential offenders. If there was 100 percent assurance of being apprehended and imprisoned for committing a crime, fewer people would do so,” Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila, said.

He said under his proposal, the convicts will spend their lives behind bars, with the accessory penalty compelling them to provide full restitution to their victims, or to their victims’ families.

“The problem with the death penalty is that it leaves no room for rectification. We cannot bring a dead convict back to life, even if another party later on confesses to having committed the crime for which the convict had been wrongfully condemned,” Atienza said. (Charissa M. Luci)