BEHIND THE LINES
BY BOB JALDON
San Jose, CA. — Its lethal campaign questioned by the moralists and scrutinized by human rights advocates in Manila and some school campuses nationwide, particularly those run by priests and nuns, the drive against illegal drugs will face a complicated problem in the months ahead. It’s not “shabu” or cocaine or the kind of stuff that has killed many celebrities, including Oscar-winning actors. The threat comes from a combination of congress wanting to legalize the use of marijuana or other substances as “legal highs” or “designer drugs” and the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
These synthetic drugs were unheard of in the United States five years ago. Now, they’re spreading like AIDS to buyers/users everywhere at an controllable pace. With street names like K2 and Spice, these substances are openly sold in stores. Because of its rapid proliferation, legislators are looking for legal ways, now, to stop it.
In Manila and places where drugs are discreetly peddled, police Director-General “Bato” de la Rosa and his “drug-busters” should be more sophisticated than the crooks and the drug-dealers, traffickers and manufacturers that put these illegal drugs in the “market.” Our laws should be equally complex, not soporific, so that the sickening drug lords and their disgusting flunkies won’t get away, if caught and sentenced, with merely a slap on the hand.
Now that capital punishment is about to be enacted into law — again — hopefully, these satans in disguise should quiver in fear. Wretched men have taken away the lives of virtuous men. Shouldn’t the former be punished by the righteous?
TIME MAGAZINE reported that America has had a long conflicting relationship with capital punishment. It says that the death penalty, as is the reasoning of our Congress, is a way of deterring heinous or horrendous crimes, but also insists that the criminals should be entitled to a dignified end. Hanging — the method of execution in the 19th century — was America’s first attempt to reconcile the definition of dignified execution. It was supplanted by electrocution in the late 1800s. The gas chamber in the 1920s was introduced as a modern option to “kill” cleanly.
At the peak of the capital punishment in the 1930s, the U.S. averaged one execution every other day through a combination of electric chair, gas chamber and firing squad. The figures fell in the 1950s and 1960s, and executions stopped altogether in 1972 when the Supreme Court ruled the application of the death penalty was unconstitutional. That is why I’ m saying that the biggest obstacle to “Double-Barrel” is our Supreme Court and not the Catholic Church, human rights advocates or the United Nations or even the Pope.
However,TM continues, the respite didn’t last long. The death penalty was reinstated in 1977 with the execution by firing squad of a convicted murderer, Gary Gilmore, in Utah. Not long after, an Oklahoma legislator asked Dr. Jay Chapman, the state’s chief medical examiner, to find a more humane way of executing convicts. Within days, Chapman had an idea for an injectable mix of drugs that would painlessly do the job. He combined sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride, merely increasing the dosage of what was widely used for general anesthesia.
More than 1,200 people have sInce been put to death using the protocol Chapman discovered... until some anesthesiologists begun suspecting that some inmates were awake but paralyzed during their executions. An anesthesiologist at the University of Miami reviewed the postmortem records of 49 executed patients and determined that 21 of them may have been conscious and potentially in deep pain as the final drug was administered. But that’s another story altogether.
Going back to our version of capital punishment. What’s the more humane alternative of dealing with convicted drug offenders? Do we — no, the legislators, the judge, the president — send them automatically to their deaths?
Let’s see what associate justice Antonio Carpio has to say. After all, there are talks that he will be the next Philippine president.