MANILA - Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday questioned the need to reimpose the death penalty for those convicted of drug-related crimes after the government claimed that its house-to-house search for drug suspects and users was a success.
Is the government calling for the revival of death penalty because "Oplan Tokhang" was "ineffective?" Pangilinan asked Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, an advocate of death penalty who once led the adminitration's war on drugs that left thousands killed.
Dela Rosa said Pangilinan's observation was "subjective."
"I will not yield to your opinion na hindi effective [ang Tokhang]," the former police chief-turned-lawmaker said in plenary.
"Saan ka nakakita ng 1.3 million na surrenderers na mga drug users at drug pushers? Saan ka nakakita ng 30,000 drug offenders na naaresto?" he said.
"Tokhang" was "very effective" because it pulled the crime rate in the country by "nearly 50 percent," Dela Rosa said.
Pangilinan noted that the proliferation of illegal drugs remains to be a problem in the country because "Oplan Tokhang" only dealt with poor drug users, instead of going after drug lords.
"Kaya siguro problema pa din [ang droga] dahil puro maliiit na pusher lang ang nahuli," the opposition senator said.
Dela Rosa belied Pangilinan's allegation, saying several mayors who were linked to drug operations were also apprehended in recent years.
"Patuloy na pumapasok ang droga sa ating bansa dahil ang business na ito ay very lucrative," he said.
Dela Rosa maintained that the best deterrent against drugs syndicates is to revive the death penalty for drug convicts.
Calls to reimpose the capital punishment in the Philippines were renewed in Congress after President Rodrigo Duterte urged legislators during his 5th State of the Nation Address to pass a measure allowing it.