9 senators express opposition to death penalty
At least nine of 24 senators have openly expressed their opposition to the proposed revival of the death penalty in the country even before a joint panel in the Senate starts its deliberations on Tuesday. Six were either supportive or “open” to the proposal.
The Senate committees on justice and human rights, and on constitutional amendments and revision of codes are scheduled to start the discussion on the issue for Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
The nine who are against the proposal are Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros and Senator Richard Gordon — all six are part of the Senate majority bloc.
The three others are from the Senate minority bloc–Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto and Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV.
“The LP senators are united in opposing the death penalty filed by Senator (Manny) Pacquiao,” Pangilinan, president of Liberal Party, said in a text message on Monday.
Pacquiao is a staunch supporter of the proposed restoration of the capital punishment in the country.
“The death penalty is antipoor, is cruel and inhumane and PNP’s (Philippine National Police) statistics show that (it) does not serve as a deterrent to crime. Killing a criminal does not solve it nor does it achieve what it seeks to defeat,” Pangilinan added.
Aside from Pangilinan, the three other LP senators are Drilon, De Lima and Aquino. Hontiveros of Akbayan partylist also ran under ther LP-led senatorial ticket in the last May 2016 elections.
Recto, in a separate text message, reiterated his opposition on the revival of the death penalty.
“I am fundamentally against death penalty. If the Senate committee will adopt the bill being debated by the House, it will not pass the Senate,” the Minority Leader said.
Trillanes said he is against the restoration of the death penalty because he believes it would be “abused and misused” by the present administration.
“I am against the death penalty. Primarily, because I believe it will be abused and misused by this Administration at the rate they encourage policemen to plant evidence. Also, the judiciary needs to be reformed first,” he said.
Gordon, chair of the justice committee, and Escudero reiterated in separate interviews last week their position against the measure.
Aside from Pacquiao, five senators were either supportive or “open” to the proposal but with “reservations.
The five are Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senators Joel Villanueva, Sonny Angara, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, and Sherwin Gatchalian.
“[I’m] in favor but only for high level drug trafficking,” Sotto III said in another text message, adding that he was willing to listen to the arguments of both sides.
Villanueva said he is in favor of the proposal but with “very strong reservations,” citing the weaknesses in the current justice system.
“I think we need it (death penalty) but the justice system will play a vital role. Right now, I have very strong reservations,” he said.
Angara said he is “open” to the proposal but only for drug trafficking. He also cited the need to reform the justice and police systems “to prevent miscarriages of justice.”
Ejercito said he is considering death penalty also for big time offenses “to serve as a deterrent.”
“The Philippines became the hub of the international drug syndicate since we are the only country in Southeast Asia that does not have death penalty,” he said.
Like Pacquiao, neophyte Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has also filed bills to reinstate the death penalty but also “for high volume drug possession, selling and manufacturing” only.
“This is focused on big time drug syndicates and drug dealers,” Gatchalian said.
Inquirer.net also tried to get the stand of other senators but some of them have not responded yet to the query as of posting./ac
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