On Sunday, former PNP chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list) and five other senate aspirants faced off at a media forum on pressing issues in the country.
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Rights lawyer Diokno, ex-top cop Bato weigh in on country's drug problem
(Philstar.com) - December 3, 2018 - 9:42am

MANILA, Philippines — Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno and former top cop Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa—petitioner and respondent in a Supreme Court case on President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs—faced off on their proposed solutions to the country’s drug problems in a forum on Sunday.

Diokno challenged the constitutionality of Duterte’s brutal war against drugs to the Supreme Court in 2017. Dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police director general, was one of the respondents named in the petition filed by kin of drug war victims.

Both are running for the Senate in the 2019 midterm elections, and faced off in a forum by CNN Philippines on Sunday.

The government has acknowledged the deaths of more than 4,900 "drug personalities" since the "war on drugs" was launched in July 2016. The government says these 4,900 forced security personnel to kill them when they violently resisted arrest. 

READ: Diokno urges SC to invalidate PNP, DILG orders on drug war

Dela Rosa: Death penalty to drug traffickers

Dela Rosa asserted that the death penalty for drug trafficking crime could deter drug-related crimes. He cited his experience at the Bureau of Corrections, where he said he observed that even when jailed, drug lords can expand their “drug empire.”

Dela Rosa said that he asked the drug lords why they “insist on trafficking drugs to the Philippines.”

He claimed that they told him that “‘Your laws here in the Philippines are too easy.’”

He said that imposing the death penalty on drug traffickers could curb the problem.

Diokno: Fix justice system

But Diokno, who brought the plight of the victims of the drug war to the high court, said that the root of the problem is a crooked justice system.

“There is no shortcut to justice. There is no shortcut in fighting crime and corruption,” he added.

“If we want a real and lasting solution in the issue of crime, drugs and corruption, we need to fix the crooked justice system,” he added.

He has previously said that the certainty of punishment, and not the severity, is the more effective deterrent to crime.

The veteran lawyer said that the court trials in the Philippines are slow and tedious due to a lack of judges and prosecutors.

He said that politics should also not be used in appointing members of the Judiciary and prosecutors, under the Department of Justice.

The SC has yet to issue a ruling on the petition challenging the constitutionality of the government’s Oplan Tokhang and Masa Masid program.

RELATED: Highlights from the Supreme Court oral arguments on the drug war

Alejano: Address poverty, criminal justice system

Meanwhile, Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list) said that he is not in favor of how the government is implementing its "war" against drugs.

Alejano, a former Marine officer, said that the government approach, which he said emphasizes “killing, killing, killing”, is prone to abuse.

“One of the issues here is the security of every Filipino. It destroys democractic institutions, democratic processes. In the long run, we will all fall victims even if we are not involved in the war against drugs,” Alejano said in Filipino.

Alejano said that the government needs to address poverty, which he said is the root of criminality, and fix the Philippine criminal justice system.

Here are how other Senate aspirants in the media forum weigh in on pressing issues in the country: 

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