Where senators stand on reimposition of death penalty
Photo shows new and re-elected senators during the opening of the 18th Congress on July 22, 2019.
Sen. Kiko Pangilinan/Released

Where senators stand on reimposition of death penalty

(Philstar.com) - July 24, 2019 - 6:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — In the 17th Congress, a measure seeking to reinstate death penalty failed to pass Senate despite it being one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s pet bills.

Duterte renewed his call to bring back death penalty for heinous crimes related to drugs and plunder—an unrealized plank on his anti-criminality drive—during his fourth State of the Nation Address Monday.

The landslide win of his allies in the 2019 midterm polls is seen to open a path for the enactment of a return of capital punishment in the Philippines.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said debates on death penalty at the upper house would be a “hard battle” as many of his colleagues remain opposed to the controversial proposal.

He, however, said that limiting the revival of death penalty to only high-level drug trafficking offenses has a better chance of hurdling the Senate than the other versions by a narrow margin.

Death penalty in the country has been outlawed in 1987, reinstated six years later and then abolished again in 2006.

Here’s how senators stand on the contentious proposal to reinstate capital punishment:

Those who expressed support for death penalty

Sen. Tito Sotto

The leader of the upper chamber is one of the senators backing death penalty for high-level drug traffickers. He vowed to exert effort to convince his colleagues to support the bill.

He first sought the restoration of capital punishment through lethal injection in 2014.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa

Dela Rosa—a former chief implementer of the government’s brutal war on drugs—filed a bill that seeks to mete death as maximum penalty for the importation and manufacture of illegal drugs.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go

Duterte’s former aide filed a bill seeking to reinstate death penalty for drug-related offenses and plunder. Under his proposed measure, death penalty shall be carried out through lethal injection.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao

Pacquiao, a devout evangelical Christian, proposed to impose a penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P1 million to P10 million to those found guilty of importing and selling illegal drugs. Those who would protect any violator of the Comprehensive Drug Act would also face a penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P1 million.

In his first Senate speech, the Bible-quoting boxer-turned-politician said capital punishment is lawful and moral “especially in the eyes of God.”

“When the government punishes, it’s not an individual act. That’s approved by God. That’s what the Bible says,” Pacquiao said then.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson

Lacson’s proposal to restore death penalty is extensive as it includes drug-related crimes, treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and illegal detention, robbery with violence and intimidation of persons, destructive arson and human trafficking as among the criminal offenses punishable by death.

Sen. Pia Cayetano

In 2017, Cayetano—then a representative of Taguig City’s second district—voted in favor of House Bill 4727, which seeks to punish perpetrators of drug-related crimes with either life imprisonment or death.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Gatchalian filed a bill that seeks the reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes such as child trafficking, exploitation, prostitution, pornography and rape.

In February 2019, he said he supports the reimposition of death penalty for “big time drug lords.”

Sen. Lito Lapid

The action star-turned-politician told ABS-CBN in March 2019 that he supports the revival of death penalty for some heinous crimes.

Sen. Imee Marcos

In 2016, Marcos, then Ilocos Norte governor, expressed support to Duterte’s call to revive death penalty.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III

Pimentel said he is open to a version of a death penalty that only focuses on one heinous crime related to drugs.

“To proponents of death penalty, this is all I can say: as soon as you expand the coverage to more than one heinous crime then you will have a more uphill battle,” he told reporters after Duterte delivered his fourth SONA.

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla

Revilla, who was jailed for plunder but was acquitted of the charges in 2018, said he personally supports Duterte’s call to revive capital punishment for drug-related offenses and plunder. He added that death penalty must be also meted out to people who “falsely and maliciously accuse others of these offenses.”

Sen. Francis Tolentino

Tolentino told ABS-CBN News Channel in February 2019 that he approves of death penalty for “heinous crimes, drug-related crimes.”

Sen. Cynthia Villar

News5 reported Villar is in favor of death penalty but only for high-level drug offenses.

Those who expressed opposition to death penalty

Sen. Franklin Drilon

Senate Minority Leader Drilon vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to block the reimposition of capital punishment in the country.

Drilon, a former Justice secretary, said that the poor would become victims of what he called as a “cruel and inhumane” punishment.

“No justice will be served if it involves taking a life. Let’s be more rational, humane, independent and conscientious in handling this very sensitive issue,” he said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros

Hontiveros believes that death penalty is not a deterrent to crimes.

“What is really a deterrent to all kinds of crime is fixing the country’s criminal justice system. The real deterrent is the certainty that a suspected criminal will be arrested, prosecuted and condemned,” she said Monday.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

In 2017, Pangilinan vowed to block death penalty in the Senate after the House of Representatives approved its version of the proposed measure.

“We maintain that death penalty is cruel, degrading and inhuman,” he said then.

Sen. Leila De Lima

The detained senator filed a bill that seeks to mete punishment of life imprisonment on heinous crimes in lieu of death penalty, which she said has failed to prove as an effective deterrent against heinous crimes.

“As the efficacy and morality of the death penalty is questionable at best, there is a need to legislate an alternative punishment against extraordinary heinous crimes,” she said.

Sen. Richard Gordon

The chairman of the Philippine Red Cross also voiced opposition to reinstating death penalty, calling the proposal “anti-poor.”

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri

Zubiri, the majority floor leader, is against the proposal as a member of the Red Cross.

“Personally, I believe that it should be a conscience vote. You know I’m allied with the president and we respect his views on the death penalty. But I’ve been in the Red Cross movement for the last 25 years. As a Red Crosser, we value all kinds of life,” he told ABS-CBN News Channel Wednesday.

Sen. Grace Poe

Poe favored death penalty when she ran for president in 2016 but had a change of heart in 2017.

Sen. Nancy Binay

In a 2017 tweet, Binay said she has “always been pro-life” and is “against death penalty.”

Sen. Ralph Recto

Recto said in 2017 that “in principle I remain against capital punishment” but conceded that “cruelty and impunity inflicted in crimes like the one that victimized the Korean (Jee Ick-joo) is beginning to define what a super heinous crime that may be punishable by death is.”

Sen. Joel Villanueva

Villanueva wants the country’s justice system overhauled first.

No position

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara

The office of Angara said the senator “has not taken a position” on the issue and “will listen to the arguments of the death penalty for and against the proposal and then make a decision based on these and on his convictions at the proper time.”

In 2017, social media users criticized his unclear stand on the matter and accused him of not standing by his principles. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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