Senators weigh in on reimposition of death penalty
MANILA, Philippines — Senators in the 18th Congress on Tuesday had their first debate on the plenary floor on the reimposition of the death penalty.
After Sen. Manny Pacquiao delivered a privilege speech on the matter, several senators took their turn to interpellate.
In his speech, Pacquiao insisted that “it is high time” that the death penalty be imposed against drug traffickers and manufacturers as the government’s war on drugs could no longer deter them committing crimes.
However, Senate President Vicente Sotto III interjected that among the reasons behind the continuing problem on illegal drugs is “bad demand reduction strategy.”
“We won’t need the death penalty. We won’t need these laws if our demand reduction strategy is very successful,” Sotto said during the interpellation.
He proposed that the government implement resistance education programs in schools so that children would know that consuming drugs is bad.
Sotto also proposed a “massive” rehabilitation program for those already dependent on illegal drugs.
“The bottom line is the day we stop buying, the day they stop selling,” the Senate President said.
He said he hoped the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights that will tackle the bill would concentrate on the demand reduction program so that legislation for the death penalty could be focused “only for high-level drug trafficking.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros argued that, though the death penalty would only be imposed on high-level drug traffickers and manufacturers, there would be no assurance that this would solve the country’s drug problem.
“Kahit limitahan ang parusang kamatayan sa mga drug lords, kahit pa sa mga mandarambong, walang katiyakan na matutugunan nito ang problema sa droga at pagnanakaaw sa kaban ng bayan,” Hontiveros said.
[Even if the death penalty would be reserved for drug lords and even plunderers, there’s no certainty that this will solve the problem of drugs and stealing from the country’s coffers.]
She said the “sustainable” solution would be the reformation the country’s overall justice system “to ensure that the law would be applied swiftly and evenly.”
According to her, “the real deterrent to crime” is not the reimposition of capital punishment but the “certainty” that criminals will be “arrested, prosecuted and punished.”
“The effectiveness of the law is not determined by its harshness or ruthlessness, it is determined by its sureness, its certainty,” she added.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also questioned the argument that the imposition of the death penalty, saying: “A thought in our minds: Is it really a deterrent? Because in some countries where they have the death penalty, there is still a proliferation of drugs.”
He said he hoped that proof that capital punishment as a deterrent to crime could be presented in further tackling of the issue.
On the issue of enforcement, Zubiri said the government should support the police by giving them the best equipment so that they could “do their job to the best of their ability.”
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