By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Friday strongly denounced Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s claim that President Rodrigo Duterte preferred death by hanging amid plans to reinstate the death penalty as capital punishment.
Panelo had earlier said the President expressed his preference to put to death convicted criminals by hanging in order to lessen government expenses.
“This statement only shows how barbaric and inhumane this government is,” De Lima said in a statement.
“Nasa dugo na talaga nila ang pagiging sadista, malupit at marahas (It is really in their blood to be a sadist, cruel and violent),” added De Lima.
De Lima, who has consistently opposed capital punishment way back when she was head of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), made the admonition after Panelo disclosed Duterte’s preference: “Kung tatanungin mo siya, walang gastos eh ano na lang, lubid,” Panelo was quoted as saying.
During his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, Duterte reiterated his call for Senate and House leaders to pass a law reinstating death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs and plunder.
De Lima, however, reiterated that restoring the death penalty for heinous crimes would not deter the commission of crime but instead would only affect poor Filipinos.
“The simplistic equation that death penalty will result in greater crime deterrence reflects an elitist, anti-poor and misdirected mindset,” said De Lima.
The senator reminded that the country’s deeply flawed administration of criminal justice system is prone to errors as it could result in wrongful guilty verdicts that might affect poor Filipinos who do not have the capacity to defend themselves in court.
De Lima said, this 18th Congress, she refiled the bill which seeks an alternative to death penalty—Senate Bill No. 187, which seeks to impose qualified reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment on extraordinary heinous crimes, such as drug cases and plunder.
If enacted into law, she said the measure will impose qualified reclusion perpetua without parole on persons found guilty of treason, piracy, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, destructive arson, rape, plunder and violations of Dangerous Drug Act of 2002.
Other than qualified reclusion perpetua or imprisonment of 50 years with no possibility of parole, she said those guilty of extraordinary heinous crimes will be fined P5 million under the measure.