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FLAG hits Duterte for proposed restoration of death penalty, imposition of shoot-to-kill orders

The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) is urging incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his plans to restore the death penalty and implement a 'shoot-to-kill' order against criminals once he assumes office.

FLAG said Duterte's planned solution to deter crime are illegal and unconstitutional and is a blatant violation of international law.

"[FLAG] strongly opposes the incoming government's efforts to restore the death penalty and adopt and implement a 'shoot-to-kill' policy. These actions are illegal and unconstitutional, render our legal system impotent and meaningless, and blatantly violate international law," the statement, signed by FLAG chairman Jose Manuel Diokno, said.

The group said the two policies are anti-poor since 73 percent of the 1,121 inmates on death row before the death penalty was abolished in 2006 earned less than P10,000 a month.

In addition, 81 percent worked in law income jobs such as sales, service, factory, agricultural, transportation or construction works.

"The poor are vulnerable to the death penalty because they have no voice, no money, no power, and lack the resources to hire good lawyers. For exactly the same reasons, they will also be vulnerable to the proposed 'shoot-to-kill' policy of the President-elect," it said.

The policies also allegedly reflect a callous disregard for human dignity and neglect laws imposed on all public servants to observe, respect, and promote human rights

Once the Philippines restores the death penalty, FLAG said the country will violate the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights it signed on September 20, 2006 and was ratified on November 20, 2007 "without reservation."

"The Second Optional Protocal is the only international treaty of worldwide scope to prohibit executions and to provide for total abolition of the death penalty. States that ratify the Second Optional Protocal are required to renounce the use of the death penalty definitively," FLAG said.

"If the Philippine reinstates capital punishment (after having ratified the Second Optional Protocol), the country would be condemned for violating international law. It would be a great stigma," the group added.

Meanwhile, FLAG said the shoot-to-kill policy of the Duterte administration undermines the Constitution's provisions where no person shall be deprived of live, liberty, or property without the due process of law.

FLAG said Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code authorizes police officers the use of deadly force only when it is reasonably necessary, unlike the shoot-to-kill policy.

"The shoot-to-kill policy gives unbridled discretion to law enforcement officers to take the law into their own hands and act as judge, jury, and executioner," FLAG said. — APG, GMA News