MANILA - Senator Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday said he hopes to receive the support of his colleagues in a death penalty bill that will only target drug lords.
"Mahihirapan talaga kami to get the majority but we’re going to explain again to my colleagues that pipiliin lang natin: kumbaga ang gusto namin dito is yung drug lords," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Wala naman sigurong durg lords na mahirap. Hindi ‘yung mga users, yung mga drug lords talaga ang gusto namin," he said.
Pacquiao, chair of the Senate subcommittee on justice and human rights, said they are going to have another hearing to thresh out the details on what would constitute a "drug lord."
"Hindi naman siguro masama na puro lang sa drug lord kasi yun ang gumagawa. Nasisira ang kabataan natin because of these people," he said.
The neophyte senator said some of his colleagues have expressed support for the death measure as long as it is limited to drug offenses.
Pacquiao has filed three separate bills seeking the death penalty for drug trafficking, kidnapping, and aggravated rape. Several other senators also filed death penalty proposals for different crimes.
Pacquiao said death penalty in the Philippines was never abolished, although critics often cite Article III, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution, which reads: “Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.”
“May exception na ‘unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes.’ Meaning, the death penalty in our country is not abolished. It’s just moratorium issued by President Gloria nung time niya. Pero nung Ramos, andyan yung death penalty,” he said.
The Philippines was the first Asian country to abolish death penalty in 1987, but President Fidel V. Ramos reinstated it in response to increasing crime rates. It was abolished once again under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006.
Last year, then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte said he will restore the death penalty if he won the election.
Pacquiao rationalized that because death penalty was never abolished in the Philippines, the international treaties it signed were hands-off.
"This time kasi kailangan natin ang reimposition ng death penalty because of these illegal drugs na talamak sa ating bansa," he said.
The boxer-turned-lawmaker, a Born-Again Christian, said his support for the death penalty law does not go against his religious beliefs as he maintained that the government can mete this punishment.
"I agree thou shall not kill. I believe that...We are not talking individually. Ang sabi ng Panginoon, huwag ka pumatay sa kapwa mo. Huwag mo ilagay ang batas sa kamay but there is authority meaning the government which is established by God and instituted by God," he said.
"Sabi ng Bible, whoever rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted...All of us, if there's a law, if there's a government, lahat tayo bound sa government. Puwede tayong parusahan ng government," he added.
Last year, the boxing-senator courted controversy after saying that "God gave the government the right to use capital punishment."
"Jesus Christ was even sentenced to death because the government called for it," he added.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, however, argued that Jesus was "innocent" and "sinless" when he was sentenced to die, just like national heroes Dr. Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.
"All three people died innocent. Jesus Christ is sinless, Jose Rizal is now a hero, and Andres Bonifacio is now a hero. There's so many people who have been killed by death penalty who are innocent," he said during a forum organized by broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The death penalty, he added, has no basis in the Scriptures.