Human Rights Watch calls on the Philippines to reject death penalty bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — An international human rights watchdog urged the Philippines to reject a measure to reinstate death penalty.

"The Philippine government should acknowledge the death penalty's barbarity and reject any moves to reinstate it," Phelim Kine, Asia deputy director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement Saturday.

Kine said the reinstatement of the death penalty will not solve the country's problem on drugs and crime. "The failure of death penalty to deter crimes is "globally recognized," Kine explained.

"It will only add to the already horrific death toll that President Rodrigo Duterte's 'war on drugs' has inflicted on Filipinos since he took office on June 30," Kine said.

Read: Duterte: Death penalty is for retribution

Official Philippine National Police data show over 2,000 suspects were killed in anti-drug police operations from July 1 to December 3.

Also read: UN rights body to PH: 'Promptly, thoroughly' probe drug killings

The HRW also wrote an appeal to the House of Representatives and Senate on Friday, calling on both Houses of Congress to reject House Bill No. 1, which seeks to reimpose the death penalty for heinous crimes such as murder, treason, plunder, and drug-related crimes.

"We urge all members of the House of Representatives and Senate to uphold the right to life enshrined in the 1987 Philippines Constitution," the letter signed by HRW Asia Director Brad Adams read.

HRW reminded lawmakers that the Philippines is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and is therefore obliged to observe the Second Optional Protocol on the abolishment of the death penalty.

Also read: Return of death penalty in PH 'violates' international law

The death penalty was abolished under the 1987 Constitution. Former President Fidel Ramos reinstated the death penalty in 1993, only to be abolished again in 2006 after then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a law reducing maximum punishment to life imprisonment.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who co-authored House Bill No. 1, earlier told CNN Philippines the Lower House may approve its version of the measure by Christmas.

The bill endorses any of the following methods of execution: by hanging, through a firing squad or lethal injection.