By Vanne Terrazola
Bringing back death penalty in the Philippines could be the best strategy to stop drug lords and big-time illegal drug syndicates from operating in the country, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Saturday.
Backing proposals to reimpose capital punishment in the country, Gatchalian said death penalty could be the way to make the Philippines a drug-free nation.
“Definitely, ito ay isang istratehiya. Ang unang-unang stratehiya ay ituloy-tuloy ang paglaban, hindi pwedeng magpahinga sa paglaban sa ilegal na droga, pero ang isa sa matinding istratehiya ay ibalik ang death penalty,” the senator said in an interview over radio DWIZ.
(Definitely, this is one of the strategies. First of all strategies is to continue and not be complacent in the fight against illegal drugs, but one of the most effective strategies is to bring back death penalty.)
Gatchalian, during the 17th Congress, filed two bills seeking to reinstate death penalty: one for heinous crimes such as child trafficking, exploitation, prostitution, pornography and rape; and another for crimes involving dangerous drugs.
He said he will refile a bill on death penalty against drug lords and “high-volume” drug traders in the 18th Congress.
Gatchalian echoed Senate President Vicente Sotto’s belief that death penalty would have a higher chance of approval if limited to big-time drug trafficking.
This, anyway, was the “common denominator” of the death penalty bills that failed to hurdle the Senate, he said. He also claimed that various crimes are associated with illegal drug use.
He said drug lords should be punished with death since they are able to continue with their businesses while in jail.
He admitted that despite the Duterte administration’s all-out war against illegal drugs for the last three years, he has yet to see a single drug lord convicted and detained.
“Para mapakita natin sa ating mga kababayan na tayo ay seryoso sa paglaban sa illegal drugs, itong ugat ng illegal drugs ay dapat maputol at ito ay ang mga drug lord,” Gatchalian said.
“Ang pagbalik ng death penalty sa drug lord ay isang senyales din sa mga nagtatangka pang magpasok ng illegal drugs, mga sindikatong malalaki dito sa ating bansa…Ang gusto natin ipalabas sa kanila na wag na magtangka dito na magoperate dahil pag nahatulan diretso sila sa death penalty,” he further explained.
But even as he proposed capital punishment for child trafficking and rape, Gatchalian said he might not support measures covering other crimes as he believes that the focus should be on drug lords.
At least four versions of death penalty bills have so far been filed in Senate ahead of the opening of the 18th Congress. Several majority bloc senators have expressed openness to support the reimposition of death penalty.
Members of the opposition in Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Frank Drilon, however, said they will fight “tooth and nail” to block the proposal.