Pacquiao: From pro-life to pro-death

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Saying he has personally witnessed the deadly impact of illegal drugs on people when he was still a struggling boxer, Sen. Manny Pacquiao pushed for the re-imposition of the death penalty on drug traffickers.

In his first privilege speech as a senator, Pacquiao pointed out that under the Constitution, the death penalty may be imposed as Congress had imposed and later repealed the Death Penalty Law, but did not abolish capital punishment per se.

“Death penalty is lawful, moral and sanctioned governmental action. Having read the Bible on a regular basis I am convinced that God is not just a God of mercy, but he is also a God of justice,” the world boxing icon said.

“Can we still count on our fingers families we know who were destroyed by illegal drugs? Even innocent civilians who denounce drugs can be unwilling victims once an addict goes out to the street and wreaks havoc,” he said.

The senator, who is always accompanied by Christian pastors in his boxing bouts and prays before each fight, cited various biblical passages, including Genesis, chapter 9, verse 6; Exodus 21:12; and Romans 13:4 saying, “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on to the wrongdoer.”

Pacquiao has filed at least four bills seeking to impose capital punishment on heinous crimes including drug trafficking, kidnapping and aggravated rape.

He sought the support of his colleagues to immediately pass the measures as illegal drugs “do not choose its victims.”

He recalled the intense debates on capital punishment when the 1987 Constitution was being written and in Congress.

“We have many bills that are pending that need our immediate attention. Do we have to waste our time in debating an issue that they (framers of the Constitution) have long resolved, the issue of death penalty,” he said.

He warned the people that while drug addicts are hooked on narcotics, drug traffickers are addicted to money, to which there appears to be no rehabilitation or cure.

“The rich drug traffickers are the most worrisome. Not even science has found a cure for their obsession and addiction to money,” Pacquiao said.

He cited the case of China and Singapore that have capital punishment and have made great strides against illegal drugs.

After his speech, senators took turns interpellating him, including Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Sens. Leila de Lima, Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan.

With the exception of Sotto, the four interpellating senators made known their opposition to the death penalty and grilled Pacquiao.

But Pacquiao said his argument was simple: drug traffickers must be put to death as allowed by God and the Constitution.

“By opposing the death penalty, are we saying we are greater than God?” Pacquiao retorted.

His bills were referred to the committees on public order and illegal drugs, chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson; and justice and human rights, chaired by De Lima.

This prompted Lacson to ask whether De Lima would be objective enough in steering the hearings with him.



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