Sotto wants prison island for drug offenders

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto III has a radical solution for the country's drug problem: isolate all drug offenders on a prison island so they can't escape.

Sotto, a former chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), said the Philippines' drug problem needs a holistic solution implemented by a single government agency.

"We must upgrade the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) into a Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority, wherein the four concerns are all in one," he said on ANC's Headstart.

He identified the four as enforcement, prosecution, prevention, and rehabilitation, which he learned from the United States Drug Control Policy Program.

Sotto, one of the principal authors of the death penalty in the 10th Congress, said it is not the death penalty that will curb the drug problem. Instead, he proposes to isolate drug offenders from local communities.

"Put them in an island, a rocky island, where there is no cell site, [where] there are no ways or means of transportation, going or leaving. Of course, food can be brought in."

He is also unsure about a proposal to impose the death penalty solely on foreign drug traffickers.

The senator said the Philippines must strengthen its international linkages on the issue of illegal drugs.

"There are a number of international narcotic enforcement associations, groups. As a matter of fact, I was planning to make one for the ASEAN," he added.

Sotto is backing Sen. Grace Poe in the presidential race, despite the latter's desire to restore the death penalty for heinous crimes.

He said he is friends with all presidential candidates, but endorsed Poe because of familial ties.

"I can work with all of them, but I joined and I support Sen. Grace Poe because of the family relationship."

He also maintained that the presidency is still "up for grabs" for all candidates at this point and that the electorate in Metro Manila can still pull surprises.

Sotto said he has no ambitions for higher office—"that's a headache"—and that he's effective where he is now.