By Hannah Torregoza
Neophyte Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Thursday said he is going to push for the passage of a death penalty law that would only cover high-level drug traffickers this 18th Congress.
Speaking to reporters at a Kapihan sa Senado, dela Rosa said part of his legislative agenda is the re-imposition of the death penalty and he hopes that Christian churches and his colleagues in the Senate would be amenable to his proposal. He has filed Senate Bill No. 226 or the bill imposing the death penalty for the crime of drug trafficking.
“Malaking tulong po yun. Nung general director ako ng BuCor (Bureau of Corrections), tinanong ko yung mga nasa loob ng Bilibid, lahat sila paborito ang Pilipinas na dalhan ng shabu kasi sabi nila (That’s would be a big help. When I was a director at the BuCor, I asked those inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and they admitted that they like Philippines as a dumping ground for shabu because) we don’t have a death penalty here in the Philippines,” Dela Rosa said during the forum.
“Kaya gawin natin ang death penalty para matakot na sila lalo na pag natuloy ang gusto ko na (That’s why let’s pass the death penalty here so they would fear doing that especially if we go by what I want which is) death by firing squad. Tingnan natin kung sige pa sila maghakot ng drug dito (Let’s see if they will continue bringing drugs here)” the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief said.
Dela Rosa, who is reportedly going to head the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said he believes that the only way to convince his colleagues to pass the measure is to limit the death penalty only to drug traffickers.
Critics of the bill, he noted, branded the proposal as “anti-poor” that is why it failed to pass during the 17th Congress.
“Hindi naipasa noon dahil sabi anti-poor. Wala naman drug trafficker na mahirap eh, big-time ang mga ito (it didn’t pass before because they claimed its anti-poor. But there are no drug traffickers who are poor. These are big-time traffickers). So I expect support from my colleagues, I hope they support me,” the former BuCor chief explained.
Likewise, dela Rosa expressed hope that Christian churches, especially those who are pro-life, see the wisdom of imposing a death penalty for drug traffickers.
“Lahat tayo sumusunod sa Bibliya. Nasa Bibliya naman ang death penalty…may mga verses dun about death penalty (we are all following the Bible. Death penalty is in the Bible…there are verses there that talks about death penalty). Both in the Old and New Testament,” the senator said.
“Sana maintindihan ng simabahan ang aking version, for drug trafficking lang naman ang aking version (I hope the Church understands my version, which is only to impose death penalty for drug trafficking only),” he pointed out.
Living in an imperfect world
Dela Rosa, likewise, defended the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and the number of innocent lives that were also lost during legitimate drug buy-bust operations.
“We are living in an imperfect world. Kung perfect sana lahat, walang magkakamali, pero marami tayo imperfections kaya nangyayari iyan,” dela Rosa said when asked about the latest incident where a three-year old girl died when her father, a drug suspect, used her as a shield during an anti-illegal drug operation.
“Hopefully, we can legislate some amendments or improvements sa batas para maiwasan ang ganung pangyayari (to prevent such kind of incident),” he said.
Asked if he is amenable to revisiting the rules on engagement which law enforcement authorities apply during police operations, dela Rosa said he is open to studying it.
“Pag-aralan natin, hindi lang naman dito nangyari iyan. Kahit sa ibang bansa, kahit perfect na ang kanilang ginagawa. We will not stop looking for something to improve,”
“Sa rules of engagement, dapat wala talagang madadamay pero we live in an imperfect world. Sh*t happens during operations,” he said.
Dela Rosa said that though he wants the death penalty imposed through firing squad, he would leave the decision to those who will craft the implementing rules and regulation.
But he said the firing squad should be done publicly and there should be guidelines to shield minors from witnessing the execution.
“To hamper the growth of foreign syndicates and to address the illicit drug trafficking prevailing in the region, the proposed legislation aims to revive and impose death penalty for those fearless foreigners and citizens of the country who will be found guilty of violating specific provisions of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” dela Rosa said in the explanatory note of Senate Bill No. 226. [Hannah L. Torregoza]