Lapid backs death penalty, lower age of criminal liability

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2019 08:52 AM

Senatorial candidate Lito Lapid gestures during an interview with ABS-CBN News. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Senatorial candidate Lito Lapid supports the revival of death penalty for some heinous crimes and lowering the age of criminal liability, policies both championed by President Rodrigo Duterte but dubbed as anti-poor by some rights advocates.

The House of Representatives last year approved a bill bringing down the age of criminal responsibility to 12 from the current 15. The upper chamber of Congress needs to approve a counterpart measure.

Separate bills seeking the reinstatement of death penalty are also pending in the Senate.

Lapid noted that under the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the death penalty was meted out against some affluent individuals, including a drug lord and the 4 men involved in the gang rape of actress Maggie Dela Riva.

“Kaya lang iyung martial law ang nakasama – maraming namatay. Kaya maraming nang tumutol sa death penalty,” he told ABS-CBN News during a campaign motorcade in Bataan last Feb. 27.

(However, martial law made the situation unfavorable – many were killed. That’s why many people opposed the death penalty.)

Under the Marcos regime, there were 24 capital crimes punishable by death, including subversion, illegal possession of firearms, arson, hijacking, embezzlement, drug-related offenses, illegal fishing and cattle rustling, according to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

Nineteen executions took place before martial law, and 12 executions followed after the declaration of military rule, PCIJ said.

Death penalty was abolished under Marcos’ successor, former President Corazon Aquino, but was reinstated under former President Fidel Ramos.

Under former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, house painter Leo Echegaray and 6 others were sentenced to death in 1999. Many of those executed were poor, said Lapid.

“Tama naman iyung sinasabi ni [Senate President] Tito Sotto, depende sa death penalty. Iyung rape, iyung karumaldumal na crime, iyung mga tiwali, mga high na drugs -- doon lang naman dapat pumasok,” he told ABS-CBN News.

(Tito Sotto is right in saying that it depends on the death penalty. Rape, grisly crimes, corruption, high involvement in the drugs trade – it should only be applied there.)

Lapid also said he favors holding 12-year-olds criminally accountable.

“‘Pag nakakabuntis na iyung bata at nabubuntis na iyung batang babae, dapat lang dahil mayroon na siyang buhay na bubuhayin at may buhay na papatayin… Kapag 12 years old, may malisya na ang bata,” he said.

(There should be criminal liability if a boy can already father a baby and if the girl can already get pregnant, because there is already a life that they could be responsible for and a life that could be snuffed. At 12 years old, a child already has malice.)

FILM INDUSTRY REVIVAL, EDUCATION FOR THE POOR

A stuntman who rose as a film icon of the 80s, Lapid said he will also revive his previous proposal to allocate P200 million in the annual national budget for loans to local film producers.

Local governments, he said, should also reduce taxes on film theaters.

“Iyun ang gusto kong ituloy kasi hindi sila (ibang senador) kumikibo noong sinasabi ko. E ngayon, kita nilang talagang bagsak na bagsak ang showbiz, walang action, ang daming mga extra, stuntman na nawawala,” he said.

(That’s what I want to continue because when I previously suggested it, they didn’t do anything. But now, they can see that show business is in dire condition, there are no action films. There are many extras, stuntmen who have lost their livelihood.)

Lapid, who did not go to college, said he will also push for pro-poor measures, especially those concerning affordable education.

“Sa edukasyon lagi akong binabanatan. Hindi ako nakapag-aral, hindi ako nakapagtapos. Kaya iyung mga kabataan ngayon na gustong mag-aral nandoon ako, concentrate ako doon,” he said in a Feb. 20 press conference.

(I’m always criticized because of my educational background. I’m uneducated, I didn’t finish my studies. I will concentrate on the youth who want to study.)

Lapid said he will reexamine all the bills he filed during his 2 consecutive terms from 2004 to 2015, and those pushed by his colleagues, if he wins in the May 13 polls.

“Kung mayroon naman magandang panukala ang mga kasamahan ko, ang Presidente kung anong gusto niya, susuporta ako,” he said.

(If my colleagues have a good proposal, if the President wants something, I will support it.)

Lapid said he has not met the President who ran on an anti-crime platform in 2016.