MANILA - Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Thursday clashed with a student leader who criticized him for saying that convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez should be given a “second chance.”
At a Senate hearing on the mandatory imposition of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program for Grades 11 and 12, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) President Raoul Manuel alluded to Dela Rosa’s controversial statement as he expressed his opposition to the program.
“Ang layo naman ng sinasabi mo mister. Kasama ba yan dito sa hearing yong comment ko na yon? Ang layo naman. That’s an affront,” Dela Rosa told Manuel.
(You are off-topic. Is that comment included in our hearing? That’s an affront.)
“Ikaw na estudyante ka dapat matuto kang mag respeto kahit sa isang senador man lang na nandito sa hearing na ito. Huwag mong tirahin sa ibang ‘isyu na hindi kasama dito ha.”
(As a student you should know how to respect a senator during a hearing. Don’t attack him on an unrelated issue.)
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian tried to defuse the tension by asking Manuel to give the education committee his group’s position paper.
But a fuming Dela Rosa said Manuel was wrong for saying that the ROTC imposition on senior high school students was a misguided move.
“Are you sure you are the true representation of that Filipino students? Ganoon ba? Iilan lang yang mga makakaliwa diyan sa mga estudyante. Mas marami dyan ang gustong mag ROTC,” Dela Rosa said.
(Are you sure you are the true representation of Filipino students? Is that it? Only a few of you are left-leaning. Many want to join the ROTC.)
Dela Rosa also defended his statement, clarifying that he made it with the law as basis. The justice department earlier said Sanchez might be freed soon due to a 2013 law increasing good conduct time allowance for convicts.
“Did you na ako mismo gusto kong bitayin yang Sanchez na iyan ha? I am for death penalty. Kung may death penalty noon dapat nabitay na yang Sanchez na iyan,” Dela Rosa said.
(Did you know that I wanted Sanchez sentenced to death? I am for death penalty. If we had death penalty before, Sanchez should have been sentenced to death.)
“Pero kayo naman ayaw niyo ng death penalty. Ngayon bigyan ng second chance dahil na-reform na iyong tao [and] according to the computation eligible siya for pardon ayaw na naman niyo!”
(You don’t want death penalty. But now that we are giving him a second chance because he is a reformed man, and according to the computation he is eligible for pardon, you are also against it!)
Sen. Pia Cayetano, who was beside Dela Rosa, admonished Manuel for going off-topic. She said the student leader should have vented his frustrations to the media.
Cayetano moved to strike out Manuel’s comments from the Senate records.