Dela Rosa confident in 'fighting chance' of death penalty in Senate

Dela Rosa confident in 'fighting chance' of death penalty in Senate
Police SMSgt. Jonel Nuezca, who faces double murder charger for killing Sonya and Frank Gregorio, is seen at Paniqui Police Station in Tarlac.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa said that proponents of bills pushing for the reinstatement of the death penalty have numbers on their side within the Senate. 

Speaking in a radio interview aired over dzMM TeleRadyo, Dela Rosa disclosed that seven of the 24 lawmakers in the higher chamber have authored 11 different versions of the death penalty bill.

READ: More killings? Proponents use Paniqui murders to renew calls for death penalty

"Our chances are good because there are seven of us pushing for it. We know that other senators who are still 50-50 on it can still be convinced if we debate them on it. So we have a fighting chance," he was quoted as saying in Filipino. 

"I really didn't have any other platform besides the death penalty [when I was running for senator.] The people voted me [into this position] by 19 million votes because of this platform," he also said.

Dela Rosa brought the proposition up once more in late December after news broke about the murders of a mother and her son in Paniqui, Tarlac. 

The neophyte senator said then that having the death penalty reinstated would deter similar crimes, but asserted that there was no culture of impunity hounding the national police. 

Conversations surrounding the controversial measure, abolished in 2006 under then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have since been revitalized following the grisly killings. 

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has disputed the logic that the death penalty can deter crimes and make societies safer, based on documented evidence from across the world. 

"Far from making society safer, the death penalty has been shown to have a brutalizing effect on society. State-sanctioned killing only serves to endorse the use of force and to continue the cycle of violence," the group said in a briefer on the death penalty, which claimed that the logic was a myth. 

READ: Dela Rosa: Not all cops are like Nuezca

But Dela Rosa saw things differently, pointing to what he claimed were the calls of Filipinos to reinstate the state-sanctioned penalty. 

"There's a significant percentage of people who want the death penalty back," he said in Filipino, though he did not care to cite figures on this.

"These numbers increased, especially in today's situation after the Tarlac incident when the mother and son who could not even fight back were recklessly shot."

While Dela Rosa seems eager to institute death for criminals, he has also been careful to defend erring cops and the Philippine National Police as a whole after similarly controversial incidents. 

— Franco Luna with a report from Christian Deiparine  



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 10, 2019 - 10:15am

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his State of the Nation Address on July 22, urged Congress to bring back the death penalty, a move that his allies in the Senate have already expressed support for.

The House of Representatives, which is also dominated by administration allies and had already passed a bill reviving the death penalty, will also likely follow suit.

Earlier this year, the House of the 17th Congress approved on third and final reading a bill that would have re-imposed the death penalty on convicted drug offenders, particularly those found committing the offense during parties, social gatherings and meetings.

The House later withdrew its approval of the measure.

October 10, 2019 - 10:15am

The Commission on Human Rights calls on the public to resist any move to reimpose the death penalty and to stay firm in upholding the right to life on the 17th World Day against Death Penalty.

"This year's theme focuses on the unseen victims of capital punishment — children whose parents have been sentenced to death. The psychological and emotional suffering of these children can amount to a violation of their rights," Commissioner Karen Gomez Dumpit says in a statement.

"We reiterate Government’s commitment and obligation to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the Philippines expressly accepted in the free exercise of its sovereignty. The very nature of the treaty does not allow for withdrawal or denunciation. To reintroduce the death penalty once again will be a serious breach of international law."

"All crimes must be punished through an efficient and incorrupt justice system. Death penalty can breed more problems and do more harm without resolving what it purports to stop in the first place."

July 27, 2019 - 1:37pm

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima says the planned reinstatement of death penalty law is "another potentially lethal and diabolical weapon to be used against dissenters and perceived enemies of the state."

"No! No! No to death penalty! Not under this repressive and vindictive regime. Not under a weak, corrupt and compromised justice and political systems. Not ever!" she says in a dispatch. 

July 23, 2019 - 10:00am

"Lawmakers will surely support death penalty for plunder," Senate President Vicente Sotto III says in response to the president's call to revive the death penalty.

"Pag di kami sumuporta baka isipin guilty kami (If we don't back it, it will seem like we are guilty)," he also says.

In the 17th Congress, Sotto pushed for the return of the death penalty for heinous crimes like rape and murder. He initially only wanted the death penalty for "high-level drug trafficking" but said he changed his mind after the murder of a 16-year-old girl in Cebu in March.

He said he could see that people were really angry about the crime. "Majority of our people want the death penalty back for heinous crimes," he said in a CNN Philippine interview then.

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