Dela Rosa confident death-penalty advocates in Senate have numbers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2021 07:21 AM

Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Saturday said he believed the Senate would eventually back the reimposition of the death penalty once debates in the upper chamber begin.

Dela Rosa said 7 of 24 senators have authored 11 versions of the death penalty bill.

"Malaki ang tsansa na namin dahil 7 na kami nag-o-author ng bill na 'yan. Alam namin 'yung ibang senador na 50-50 baka 'pag nadebatehan na 'yan makumbinsi pa natin. So malaki ang fighting chance natin," Dela Rosa said in an interview on Teleradyo.

Dela Rosa said reimposing the capital punishment has been his battlecry even when he was campaigning to become a senator.

"Wala akong ibang plataporma kundi death penalty talaga. Ako ay ipinanalo ng mga kababayan natin by 19 million votes dahil sa ating plataporma," he said.

The former national police chief said his own version of the bill pushes to impose the death penalty for drug-trafficking cases only.

He said other crimes being proposed to be covered by the measure, such as heinous ones, may be considered during debates, too.

Dela Rosa has been pushing to start debates on the bill after the murder of a mother and her son in Tarlac by a police officer.

"Napakalaki ng porsyento ng taumbayan na gustong bumalik ang death penalty," he said, although he did not provide statistics during the Teleradyo interview.

"Lalong lalo na sa sitwasyon ngayon na nadagdagan nu'ng nangyari sa Tarlac na walang habas na binaril ang mag-ina na walang kalaban laban." 

This is why the senator prodded his fellow senators to conduct hearings regarding the measure, as soon as possible

"Kinakalampag namin palagi na sana huwag upuan sa committee 'yung mga bills natin dahil hindi umuusad at ilang taon na ang nagdaan," he said.

In July, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian relinquished his seat in the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights for Dela Rosa, who was appointed member of a Senate panel that will vote on bills seeking to revive capital punishment.

Sen. Sonny Angara at the time said he wanted “compelling evidence” that the death penalty could deter crimes and that “miscarriages of justice” could be avoided before he votes for its revival, for which President Rodrigo Duterte has batted and drummed up support, most recently during his State of the Nation Address.

Besides Dela Rosa and Gatchalian, Senators Christopher Lawrence Go, Panfilo Lacson, and Manny Pacquiao have filed separate bills seeking to reinstate the death sentence.

Lacson said the death penalty should be meted for "heinous crimes, even corruption, plunder." 

After the SONA, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said advancing such a law has "better chances" after the SONA, in which Duterte urged Congress to bring back lethal injection for convicts of drug-related crimes.

"We can try again another shot at it, especially now that the President focused only on crimes in RA 9165. Better chances," Sotto said. 

Pacquiao has repeatedly pushed to return the death sentence since 2016, saying even Jesus Christ was sentenced to death.

"Ang pag-reinstate ng death penalty sa bansa natin, hindi po illegal, hindi po against sa mata ng goberyno, sa mata ng Panginoon," the devoutly Christian world champion boxer-turned-lawmaker said in July.

"Biblically po allowed ang gobyerno, which is established by God, to impose death penalty for heinous crimes."

Minority senators Franklin Drilon, Kiko Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima have openly opposed the bill.

Sen. Richard Gordon, responding to the SONA then, said reviving the death penalty wouldn't be easy.

The Philippines signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976, which binds its signatories to ensure that "every human being has the inherent right to life" and that "no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."

"All countries who signed cannot issue the death penalty and that is ratified by the Senate," Gordon said.

"There will be a constitutional issue there because ratified issue ito . . . So hindi basta-basta mawawala iyan."

The reimposition of capital punishment was among Duterte's campaign promises in 2016, saying the threat of death can deter the proliferation of illegal narcotics in the country.

The death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 2006, under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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