Sotto hits PNP chief's claim 50 grams of drugs ‘enough’ to merit death penalty

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 29 2020 05:24 PM | Updated as of Jul 29 2020 06:37 PM

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday hit the Philippine National Police chief's claim that individuals who would be caught with at least 50 grams of illegal drugs can be sentenced to death should capital punishment be revived in the Philippines.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa earlier told ANC that possessing between 50 [grams] to 1 kilo of illegal drugs is "enough" basis to merit death penalty.

Sotto said only top-tier drug suspects should be meted death as punishment. 

"I will insist on only high level drug trafficking for the Death Penalty!" Sotto said in a tweet.

"50 grams is easy to plant! My bill says 'high-level drug trafficking only'... Take it or leave it!" said Sotto, who earlier expressed willingness to sponsor a bill on the revival of the death penalty.

Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, life imprisonment and a fine of between P500,000 and P10 million may be imposed against any individual who will be caught in possession of these types of narcotics at the following amounts:

  1. 10 grams or more of opium;
  2. 10 grams or more of morphine;
  3. 10 grams or more of heroin;
  4. 10 grams or more of cocaine or cocaine hydrochloride;
  5. 50 grams or more of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu”;
  6. 10 grams or more of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil;
  7. 500 grams or more of marijuana

The revival of lethal injection will only "stand a chance" in the Senate if it is limited to high-level drug traffickers, said Sotto, who sponsored the revival of the death penalty bill in the early 90s.

Several lawmakers even in previous Congresses have argued against the death penalty, saying it is "anti-poor." 

"They are correct," said Sotto, but such won't apply to high-level drug peddlers. 

"Pero kung high-level drug trafficking, makakapasa dahil wala namang mahirap na drug lord," he said in an earlier interview.

(If we're talking about high-level drug trafficking, that can pass because no drug lord is poor.)

The death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 2006 under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who won the 2016 elections on an anti-drug and anti-crime platform, has consistently pushed for the revival of the death penalty, mentioning the policy several times in his annual State of the Nation Address.