Thursday, December 1, 2005  

EU drive vs. death.......... penalty revives Chiong... case rift

      European Union (EU) is bringing to the Philippines its campaign to abolish the death penalty worldwide, but a Cebuana whose two daughters were raped and killed was upset by their campaign.

      Ambassador Jan de Kok, head of the delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines, was in Cebu yesterday for a forum on death penalty and restorative justice.

      EU, an organization of 25 European countries, is trying to get the Philippines to join the union for the abolition of death penalty.

      “There is no evidence that the death penalty can help curb criminality or reduce violence. There are other means to minimize such,” de Kok told reporters during a press conference.

      The Philippines abolished the death penalty in 1987, restored it in 1993, but has not executed anyone since 1999.

      This may sit well with the EU, but its campaign, however, dismayed Thelma Chiong, national vice president of the Crusade Against Violence and an advocate for the death penalty, following the murder of her two daughters.

      Paco Larrañaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Ariel Balansag and Alberto Caño were meted the maximum sentence for the death of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997.

      “European countries have different views, they don’t have the right to interfere in our laws, just as the Philippines did not interfere when a Filipino was executed in Singapore,” Chiong said.

      She was among the participants of yesterday’s forum. During the discussion, with anti-death penalty panelists, an emotional Chiong said that the panelists did not know how the victims of heinous crimes feel.

      “Paano namna kaming mga biktima? It is not our fault that the victims are put to death,” she said, answering a statement from the panel that killing a criminal is not the only way to obtain justice.

      Businessman Miguel del Gallego, who is leading a campaign to prove Larrañaga’s innocence, also spoke about the dangers of execution.

      He pointed out that innocent people could be framed by the police, once politicians impose deadlines on them to solve crimes.

      De Kok also admitted to reporters that there are moves from some European countries, especially Spain, to intervene in the Paco Larrañaga case.

      “Many people, like European parliamentarians and legal counsels from Spain, have shown interest in the case and are submitting resolutions for intervention. But the EU does not work that way, we do not pick out an individual case, we work for the total abolition of the death penalty,” he said.

      EU is also urging a debate on death penalty in the country, considering that there are some bills in the House of Representatives to abolish it. (JGA)

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