Confining death penalty bill to high-level drug trafficking gives it better chance – Senators

Published July 23, 2019, 9:52 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Hannah Torregoza 

Some senators on Tuesday expressed belief that the proposal to reinstate the death penalty as capital punishment has a better chance of passing into law if it is confined to high-level drug trafficking.

(L-R) Senators Vicente Sotto III and Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN)
(L-R) Senators Vicente Sotto III and Sherwin Gatchalian

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said not all lawmakers are keen on including plunder as among those punishable by the proposed capital punishment but they are open to the proposal.

“If it is confined to high-level drug trafficking, it stands to be a good chance. It could be a squeaker, but it could pass in the Senate,” Sotto told reporters in an interview.

“Ngayon, because of the mention of plunder, hindi maganda sa aming mga senador at saka mga congressman, na hindi pumayag na isama. Kailangang isama, otherwise, takot kami sa plunder. Therefore, aside from high-level drug trafficking, pwedeng isama pa rin ang plunder “ he said.

“But again, as of now, it is going to be a squeaker as far as the Senate is concerned. Merong mga kontra sa amin niyan, so we will try to get 13 votes,” Sotto stressed.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian echoed the Senate leader’s position saying he too is open to discussing the merits of the proposal to make plunder punishable by death.

“I’m open to it. We have to discuss about it and see what are the merits of including that, but my focus right now is reducing drugs, hopefully, eliminating drugs in our country and let’s go to the source—the drug lords,” Gatchalian said in an interview with CNN.

Gatchalian admitted he is one of the senators who filed a death penalty bill but his proposal is to limit it to high volume drug trafficking.

“In my last years as a mayor, I’ve seen drug lords hire the best lawyers to defend themselves, they have the money. Kahit nasa kulungan na sila, they can still transact and operate their businesses” he pointed out.

“So, my view here is let’s go finish the root cause of illegal drugs which is the drug lords. That’s why my death penalty bill is limited to drug trafficking which is the drug lords,” he stressed.

No doubt, Gatchalian said that the topic can be discussed “but I think it will stand a better chance in the Senate if that is limited to high volume drug trafficking because this type of individuals have the capacity to defend themselves.”

“If they get convicted, death penalty will eventually end the root cause of drugs. We are not talking about grams, we are talking about hundreds and thousands of kilos of drugs. I would like to focus on that. That’s the root cause of our crimes like rape, a lot of them are connected to illegal drugs,” he stressed.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, renewed his push for Congress to expedite passage of a death penalty law for the crimes of drug trafficking and plunder.

In his speech, Duterte expressed frustration at the worsening illegal drug activities in the country and the rampant graft and corruption in government.