Miriam wants death penalty re-imposed

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential candidate Miriam Defensor-Santiago now wants the death penalty re-imposed following rampant criminality in the streets and thievery in government.

She bared her change of mind on capital punishment during a no-holds barred interview with STAR editors and reporters at the newspaper’s offices in Port Area, Manila last Saturday.

Santiago said she voted against re-imposing the death penalty when it was discussed in the Senate.

“But today, yung mga ginagawa ng mga kababayan natin, eh makakapatay ka talaga eh (With what our countrymen are doing, you would really want to kill). Yes, I’m seriously reconsidering my previous decision.” 

Santiago said the influence of the Catholic Church had also swayed her previous decision.

“Before the arguments were very clear-cut,” she said. “And I felt I had no choice because of the lobby of the Catholic Church perhaps.” 

Santiago said she also wants death penalty for plunderers.

“The moment (one) flunks an ... investigation, off you go,” she said.

Santiago remains optimistic on her chances in the presidential race despite the “commercial survey firms,” which she said were in a conspiracy with her rivals to force her to withdraw.

Santiago said she was still “enthusiastic,” although the campaign had taxed her physically.

“I could have rested but instead I went stumping all over the country and they (grabbed) me all around,” she said. “But I’m very enthusiastic because the crowds are so big, you can see them on TV.” 

Meanwhile, Santiago said agriculture is vital to the economic development of the Philippines.

She would make the agriculture sector a top priority if she wins, she added.

Santiago said a lot of work has to be done to boost agriculture.

“First we have to have road friendly projects for agriculture,” she said.

“Number one, irrigation – there should be fair irrigation for every farmer in our country. That’s why our farmers are having a hard time.  

“Number two, we should promote water-impounding facilities. Number three, we should also build post harvest facilities,” she said, stressing the development of new crop varieties harnessing technology.

Santiago said her policy on agrarian reform is one she practices herself.     

“When I was first appointed secretary of agrarian reform, my first sentence to the press was: I was born to raise hell. I knew there was very stiff landlord resistance but I set an example, with myself,” she said.

“My husband had nearly 100 hectares [of land]… but because under the law they needed a certain base figure, he could not retain any of it.”

Santiago said the current agrarian program has not been successful.

“It has not been going as fast as it could have and besides, we have made no steps to protect the tenants,” she said.

“They only get one hectare but they need credit during the rainy months. They need seeds.” 

Foreign business 

Santiago said she would revamp visa requirements to make it easier for foreigners to obtain Filipino visas and reside in the country to make it easier for foreign companies to do business in the Philippines.

“We have to think about our business rules and make them user-friendly,” she said. 

“These foreigners are usually frustrated because of the petty corruption when they apply for permits… so we have to make sure that there is a one-stop shop, which I originally thought of in the past, but it didn’t work very well in practice,” she said. – With Aimee Shaw


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