Think of jeepney drivers when considering the death penalty

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Probably not. Take rape, for example. Rapists are usually in the moment when they are in the act of committing the crime — very likely crazed with desire, their brains totally hijacked by a cocktail of chemicals that make higher levels of thinking virtually impossible in the course of committing the crime. Same with those road rage incidents that serve as fodder for all those viral videos. For that matter, most crimes that involve exceptional barbarism fit this mould. The fact that these crimes are “barbaric” means that a barbarian mind — one incapable of thinking far ahead enough to consider consequences — is at work.

Therefore, existence — or non existence — of a death penalty is irrelevant at the time most people assume it is most effective; the moment just before the point of no return for a crook. It is an after the fact measure and, at best, only serves to assuage the grief of the living and nurture our reptilian — i.e. very natural — instincts to exact retribution.

Revenge feels good — because it serves a purpose that predates civilisation as we know it. The desire to exterminate not only the person who did us wrong, but his entire family and his dog then go on to burn his house to the ground is a very primal human emotion. By its very nature, revenge is, overall, selective and a function of individual perspective. Latte-sipping pundits and activists who offer only a theoretical lens when regarding the topic of capital punishment perhaps cannot fathom the dark recesses of the kind of grief that fuels revenge.

Then again, perhaps they do. In my article, Any sympathies for a jeepney driver shot in the head by a pedestrian he almost hit?, I offer a glimpse into what could be going on in the mind of one who would find warm, fuzzy comfort in another’s death in the absence of justice…

C’mon, admit it. It’s hard to feel sorry for that jeepney driver lying dead on the pavement with a hole in his head. I had just come across the Inquirer.net story and found myself feeling a bit guilty about how I felt — or didn’t feel. Jeepney driver shot in the head by irate pedestrian in Makati, screamed the headline.

Jeepney drivers, after all, come the closest to the distinction of being a daily reminder to all of us of the banal ingrained injustice that characterises Philippine society. As I have observed in the feedback and commentary the above article has so far attracted since it was published in mid-2015, people who have no problem with the stiff sprawled on the road next to his King of the Road vastly outnumber those who implore us to apply a bit more civil mindedness when considering said stiff. It is because most Filipinos who are wronged on the road by a jeepney driver stand little chance of getting any justice. In this we gain a bit more clarity with regard to the psychology behind the call to reinstate capital punishment in the Philippines.

The death penalty is a quaint social artefact that allows us to feed that need for deadly retribution within the legal framework. But in that notion lies the irony of the call to re-instate it. The satisfaction gained from seeing a convicted crook fry or hang is psycholoigical relic that survives a time when there was no justice. It is, therefore, self-serving and has nothing to do with preventing crime before the fact.

A more realistic way to frame capital punishment is to regard it as a prison population culling exercise. After all, there really is no point in keeping incarcerated crooks unfit for release to society alive in perpetua within our tax-funded prison system. But that’s another ethical debate to be had on another day. Point is, the argument around capital punishment as a crime deterrent is an absolute non-sequitur. It does not follow that the indidence of heinous crimes will be reduced if the death penalty is re-instated.

Moral of the story:

Instead of campaigning for the reinstatement of the death penalty, let us, instead, continue the call for the banning of jeepneys from Philippine roads. Forevah.

Now that makes more sense.

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12 Comments on “Think of jeepney drivers when considering the death penalty”

  1. The death penalty only stops that 1 individual from committing more crimes and is just cheaper than lifetime incarceration.

    Jeepneys are a road and environmental hazard and should be banned. Let me add that buses that exceed the speed limit should be automatically disabled for at least 5 hours by some kind of electronic device that activates when a bus exceeds the speed limit by 5 km/hr. For safety it should alert the driver he has 30 seconds to get the bus safely off the road before the engine shuts off.

  2. I believe in the Death Penalty…it is a good deterrent to vicious crimes. Instead of letting these hardened criminals to live a full life in jail, at the expense of us , taxpayers. Why not execute them ?

    We should also take into account the lives of the victims of these hardened criminals. The victims have also families and love ones.

    Death Penalty was removed by these high government officials; because PLUNDER is punishable by Death Penalty. Most of them are plunderers…they want to plunder. But, they do not want to be executed, because of plunder.

    Plunder should be punishable by Firing Squad ! With people watching these corrupt officials, being shot by firing squads !

  3. The challenge on the issue of death penalty is qualifying who gets it, and of course, the efficiency of the justice system . There are provisions for “neutralizing” criminals already in place in the context of self-defense and security. Perhaps the problem lies in framing it as punishment/retribution. Could we not also see it as a form of correction? In the sense that when done accordingly, there would be one less perpetrator in the populace? One might ask about the possibility of redemption: Do the odds for redemption hold weight against the effects of the person’s crime? More so against the person possibly repeating the crime? In such case, it’s a matter of being willing to take the risk. Those who have and are determined NOT to take those risks make them what they are today.

  4. What you want is a kind of death penalty for all jeepneys? Should it be replaced by something else, something better? What is the alternative for the jeepney passengers when the jeepneys are ‘killed’? Because when that happens, I expect a lot of opposition from the actual jeepney drivers. You are ‘killing’ his (are there any female jeepney drivers?) livelihood. And also opposition from passengers. It is – probably – by far – the cheapest mode of transportation (apart from tricycles).

    For a simple guy like me with my height (6’3″), jeepneys are not very pleasant to use. And I also experience inefficiency when a jeepney is not allowed to cross the ‘border’ (city limits) between Cebu City and Mandaue. So we need to change (stop over) jeepneys.

  5. Good article benign0. I’ve noticed myself that the undercurrent of impotent rage that runs through Filipino society is basically a result of the criminals, the psychopaths, or just the lazy and stupid being pandered to and supported by government and police. Everyone knows that you can literally do anything you like in the Philippines and get away with it. Nobody is going to come after you if you kill, rape, steal or defraud.

    People demand the death penalty because they know there is no law here. What they don’t seem to understand is that if the Law is incapable of locating and arresting criminals in the first place, there won’t be any penalties of any kind handed out anyway. It’s just foolish, primal fantasy.

    1. @marius: Thanks. Yes the root cause for the resurgent popularity of the initiative to reinstate the death penalty — people’s feeling of utter helplessness in the face of the banal injustice in Philippine society — is behind other things as well: our tolerance for summary killings, our inability to follow rules. In short, Filipinos don’t trust that the designers and implementors of The System had the best interests of the public in mind.

  6. I’m pro-death penalty for economic reasons. We’re talking extreme types of criminals here, the ones who pose a serious threat to society, the ones who are impossible to reform. The ones who rape three-month-old babies or hack their fathers to death and eat their internal organs because they’re high on shabu. Why should a poor country like the Philippines waste government funds to house, feed, and guard monsters like these, when that money can be used to help poor young children instead, who can still be molded into responsible and productive members of society?

    When the debates on the death penalty start at the senate, I hope someone (maybe Manny Pacquiao) will show data on how much the government spends each year on the prison system, and compute how many children can be fed and sent to school with that amount of money. Our taxes should be used to benefit law-abiding citizens, not to keep inhuman criminals alive.

    I also hope the senate gives a voice to survivors of heinous crimes (or the relatives of victims who died), because they’re the ones who can credibly speak on the death penalty, not clueless yellow morons like Kiko Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Bam Aquino who have no idea what it’s like to live with the risk of getting raped, robbed, or killed in the most brutal way by crazed shabu addicts everyday.

    If Hontiveros has another one of her idiotic little girl monologues about the worst criminals changing for the better, please send her to the Abu Sayyaff’s lair in Mindanao by herself with no media, no alalays, no guards. If she can do that, then maybe we can listen to her.

    Another thing, please leave the God-God arguments out of the debates. You are the Senate, dammit. Demonstrate to the country what separation of church and state means. Don’t use religion to argue your case. Religion is your personal choice, not the law of the land.

    If the Catholic priests start yakking again, draft a provision to tax them and include it in the constitutional amendments. If priests want to have a say in government, they need to pay like the rest of the taxpayers in this country. The Catholic church makes millions every day collecting alms from people, but where’s the money? How come so many people are still poor and helpless in their parishes? The priests keep saying the government should show mercy to criminals, but have they ever donated some of their millions to build better prisons? Have they ever done anything concrete to reduce drugs and crime in their communities?

    A person’s right to life comes with the responsibility to respect the right to life of others. If you violate the right to life of another person, you forfeit your own right to life.

    The only exception is if the victim of your crime (or their relatives) pardons you and gives the justice system permission to let you live.

    As a citizen, I don’t think the death penalty should be used lightly, but I do want to see it there in the law as an extra option that the courts and the police can use in extreme cases.

    Simple logic lang yan–there’s nothing to lose by having it there. If it doesn’t turn out to be an effective deterrent, we’re not worse off from where we are now. But if it does turn out to be effective, we gain a lot.

      1. Oh please stop being such a hippie! Of course there is no country that has zero crime rate because of death penalty. Didn’t your teacher taught you the word “minimize”?

  7. There’s this group of very vocal Duterte supporters online who only recently lost their yellowness. They’re complaining that plunder and rape were left out of the death penalty bill that was just passed.

    Stop being so yellow, you ex-yellows and ex-half-yellows (ie., Dutertards who only realized Robredo was a dud after the elections).

    Do you have any idea how hard it is to get Congress to vote for anything without resorting to bribery like the LP did? Get real. 30-50% of something is better than 100% of nothing, understand?

    Just get the current bill passed first, then add to it later. It’s better than nothing. Plunder and rape can be added in the future by direct people’s referendum.

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