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Lacson bill eyes death for drug-related crimes, terrorism

(The Philippine Star) - July 4, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Panfilo Lacson has filed a bill seeking to make terrorism, human trafficking, plunder, treason and drug-related crimes punishable by death.

Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, for his part, believes police and military generals as well as government officials who protect drug traffickers should also be meted death.

Another lawmaker, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, however, warned that President Duterte’s vow to revive capital punishment – even if the measure is railroaded in Congress – would take at least five years before being carried out owing to the slow wheels of justice.

Lacson, who headed the Philippine National Police (PNP) from 1999 to 2001, noted that the surge in heinous crimes in recent years showed life imprisonment was not a deterrent to grave offenses.

“Hence, to reinstate public order and the rule of law, there is an impending need to revisit and reimpose the death penalty on certain heinous crimes,” Lacson said.

The death penalty in the country was abolished in 2006 during the time of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, after a six-year halt to judicial executions.

Citing PNP data in 2015, Lacson said 75 percent of heinous crimes were drug-related while 65 percent of inmates in prisons were either accused or convicted of drug-related crimes.

The PNP’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management has documented 9,646 murder cases; 31,741 cases of robbery; and 10,298 rape cases in 2015. This means some is murdered every 54 minutes, robbed every 16 minutes and raped every 51 minutes.

From January to May 2016, Lacson noted the PNP recorded “a staggering number” of crimes, including 3,615 murders, 3,996 rapes and 9,971 robberies.

Lacson gave assurance he would listen to arguments for and against the death penalty bill during public hearings at the Senate.

“I commit to conduct continuous hearings if the bill will be referred to my committee (on public order and illegal drugs),” he said over radio dwIZ.

Meanwhile, Biazon said there must be a clear and even stronger punishment for the protectors of drug lords in government.

Biazon also said over dzBB that he would push for death penalty by lethal injection and not by hanging as the President had proposed.

As a congressman whose job enables him to meet convicted felons, Biazon believes it is time that convicted drug lords are meted the maximum penalty of death because the illegal drug trade flourishes even in jail, allowing lavish lifestyles for those involved and providing the money to protect their interests. The New Bilibid Prison is located in Muntinlupa City.

 As this developed, Biazon urged Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa to stop telegraphing his punches on his campaign against police generals allegedly coddling drug lords so not to preempt operations.

Reality check

Atienza, who is pro-life, said “even assuming Congress passes a new law reintroducing the death penalty by yearend, it would take another five years for new death penalty cases to go through due process – from the time a felony is committed until final judgment and execution,” he stressed.

 The judiciary is an independent yet co-equal branch of the executive department.

 There should be a “reality check,” according to the former Manila mayor, who noted that pro-life advocates have researched and studied the capital punishment issue, which Duterte said should serve as “retribution” and not necessarily a deterrent to crime.

He cited the cases of death convicts who were executed only after an average of 61 months or five years.

 Atienza also said while the 1987 Constitution gave Congress some leeway to reimpose the death penalty, the charter also forbids “cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment.”

Tier 1 for Phl

In another development, senators welcomed the upgrading of the Philippines’ ranking in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report of the US State Department but that maintaining this would be a challenge.

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