Duterte’s push for death penalty bares his inability to solve COVID-19 woes — De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s renewed push for the reinstatement of the death penalty only reveals that he is not capable of solving problems created by the COVID-19 crisis, opposition Senator Leila de Lima said on Thursday.
De Lima said in a handwritten letter from her detention cell in Camp Crame that the government must not prioritize discussions on the death penalty, and instead craft measures that would solve economic concerns brought by the health crisis.
And if the President insists on the revival of the death penalty while failing to respond to the pandemic properly, then he should resign, according to the senator.
“To insist on taking up the proposed measure at this time is the height of insensitivity and foolhardiness. If anything, this proposal by Mr. Duterte to revive the death penalty debate betrays his utter lack of resolve in solving this COVID-19 crisis,” De Lima said.
“A true leader would have nothing else in mind other than leading us through this pandemic. Kung hindi kaya ni Duterte na pagtuunan ng pansin ang isyu ng COVID-19 at ekonomiya, mas mabuti pa na magresign na lang siya at hayaang iba na ang mamahala sa ating bansa,” she added.
(If he cannot pay attention to the COVID-19 and economic issues, maybe it would be better if he should resign and allow others to manage our country.)
De Lima’s statements came after President Duterte asked Congress during his State of the Nation Address that the country needs the death penalty to curb crime again. The call drew flak from local and international rights circles as the administration apparently looks towards other issues when it has yet to solve the increasing number of COVID-19 infections.
Recently, De Lima who has clashed with Duterte several times resigned from the Senate justice panel to give way to fellow minority member Senator Risa Hontiveros, who can attend hearings unlike De Lima who is still detained due to drug-related charges.
According to De Lima, it was a tactical response to the move within the pro-death penalty camp — referring to the entry of Senator Ronald dela Rosa, Duterte’s former police chief, in the justice committee.
De Lima urged her fellow lawmakers in Congress to leave law enforcement to the executive, and resist moves to prioritize the death penalty over the COVID-19 response. This, after the House of Representatives, started tackling bills on capital punishment.
“Hinihikayat ko ang aking mga kasamahan sa Kongreso na mag-focus muna tayo sa kasalukuyang krisis. Hayaan na muna natin ang DOJ at PNP na gawin ang kanilang mandato laban sa krimen. Huwag natin ilihis ang pansin ng ating mga kababayan,” De Lima said.
(I am urging my fellow lawmakers in Congress to focus first on the existing crisis. Leave the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police to do their mandate against crime. Let us not shift the attention of our countrymen.)
“Huwag naman sana kayong mga maging sunud-sunuran sa lahat ng kagustuhan ni Duterte. Pwede ba, i-defy niyo naman siya paminsan-minsan!” she exclaimed.
(I hope you do not become blind followers to anything that Duterte wants. Please, can you defy him from time to time?)
As of now, the Philippines has the most number of COVID-19 cases in the Asia Pacific region, now with 119,460 cases — of which 2,150 have died while 66,837 have recovered.[ac]
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