Sotto: In 5 years, Philippines may be the 'next Mexico'

by Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Feb 04 2014 04:26 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2014 12:26 AM

MANILA - The Philippines may become a drug haven like Mexico in the next 5 years if policies that deter crime, such as the death penalty, are not in place, Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said.

“According to the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association, which I’m a member of, if we’re not careful, in the next five years, we might follow Mexico, [we'll be] the next Mexico,” he told ANC.

This early, he said Mexican drug cartels are already making use of the Philippines as a jump off point because “we don’t have any defenses.”

He said these groups see the country as a “playground."

They can't penetrate other countries in Asia like Singapore, Malaysia and China because the penalty for crimes such as drug trafficking is death, he said.

He believes this is the right time to debate anew about the death penalty, the imposition of which he helped get approved when he was in the 9th Congress.

“There were prevailing circumstances then, and I believe there are [similar circumstances] now," he said.

Sott said he has talked to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who has agreed to bring the discussion to the entire country.

Pimentel is the chairman of the Justice committee, which will hold consultations on the bill restoring capital punishment.

“He was very blunt about it, that it will be hard to pass the bill. But he’s quite neutral, unlike his father [former Senator Nene Pimentel] who was against it,” Sotto said.

He admits rough sailing for the bill, especially with the church’s opposition.

“Let’s just debate. You have your own opinions, pero hindi namin binabaril agad."

Sotto also noted the rise in the number of crimes in the past few years.

“Last year, we had over 1 million crimes. That means that with over 90 million Filipinos, every family has been affected at least once.”

Heinous crimes, on the other hand, numbered 8,134 last year, he said.

His version of the death penalty covers high-scale drug trafficking and rape with aggravating circumstances.

“It’s a natural law. Iba yung may kaba at takot. We all want to go to heaven, pero wala gustong mauna,” he said.