Death penalty dead in Senate — Drilon

Alexis Romero, Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -  With at least 13 senators against it, the proposal to revive the death penalty for drug-fuelled heinous crimes will not pass in the Senate.

This was the prediction of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon who made a headcount of his colleagues in the chamber who will vote for and against bills to reimpose the death penalty.

“By my own estimate, there are at least thirteen senators who will block the passage of the death penalty bill, including the six-member minority group and seven from the majority bloc,” Drilon said.

“It’s dead and the chances of resurrecting it before we even bring it to a vote are very slim, if not zero, at least in this Congress,” he said.

Other members of the minority bloc are Senators Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Benigno Paolo Aquino, who belong to the Liberal Party (LP); Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Drilon said his fellow LP, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, is also against the controversial measure.

He told the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum yesterday that his experience as a trial lawyer and former justice secretary made him oppose the death penalty.

“I shiver at the thought of an imperfect justice system, where we will be confronted with the situation where the death penalty would have to be imposed. I believe that our justice system is ineffective,” he said.

Among the senators who have either filed bills to revive the death penalty, or have expressed support for them are Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Manny Pacquiao, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian and Cynthia Vilar.

Poe told reporters yesterday she was not in favor of the death penalty owing to many weaknesses in the country’s judicial system.

Those undecided include Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Joel Villanueva.

Drilon noted that since the death penalty bill was not listed as a priority in the Senate, this could mean Pimentel was not in favor of it or he does not believe it will pass in the chamber.

Villanueva said he fully supports legislation that “can deter and ultimately eliminate our country’s drug problem.” 

“However, the question remains on whether our judicial system is capable of ensuring the just imposition of the death penalty,” he said.

Gatchalian said the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed six out of 10 Filipinos favor the death penalty reflected the frustration of the people to arrest crime and put order in the streets.

“Crime is a major concern of our ordinary constituents in their daily lives. And it is a reality that most people face everyday,” Gatchalian said. “Drugs has always been the root cause of crime in our country.”

The recent survey showing that a majority of Filipinos back death penalty was an affirmation of President Duterte’s leadership and his campaign against crime and illegal drugs, Malacañang said yesterday.   

An SWS survey conducted from March 25 to 28 showed that 61 percent or three in five Filipinos are for the revival of death penalty, one of the priorities of the Duterte administration. 

Only 23 percent of the 1,200 respondents were opposed to capital punishment. 

“The latest SWS survey showing that 61 percent of the Filipino people support the proposed death penalty affirms the President’s leadership platform anchored on peace and order as well as his strong stance against illegal hard drugs and criminality,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement. 

Abella claimed that the poll results prove that Filipinos are supportive of the House of Representatives’ passage of the death penalty bill.  

The House, which is dominated by allies of Duterte, passed on third and final reading the death penalty bill on March 7 despite protests from the Roman Catholic Church and pro-life groups. 

Death penalty was abolished in 1987 during the presidency of Corazon Aquino but was reimposed six years later under then president Fidel Ramos. 

Crimes that were covered by death penalty included rape, kidnapping, murder, drug trafficking and rape.

Capital punishment was scrapped anew in 2006 under then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

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