Admin drug war a failure, death penalty ‘anti-poor’, say some Senate aspirants

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2021 02:27 AM

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MANILA—Senate aspirants deemed the Duterte administration's war on drugs a failure, saying only the poor bore its consequences 

In a roundtable interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo on Thursday, they added that re-instituting the death penalty would not be a solution to the illegal narcotics issue and crime.

Dr. Minguita Padilla, running under the senatorial slate of the Lacson-Sotto tandem in the 2022 elections, alleged the country's supply of illegal drugs has been increasing despite government's violent narcotics war, which has led to more than 6,000 deaths, based on police statistics.

Padilla, former president of the Drug Abuse Research Foundation, said the administration lacked efforts in the rehabilitation of drug users or addicts. 

"Alam ko na importante ang rehabilitation doon sa mga drug addicts at hindi pinapatay ’yung mga adik. 'Yung mga drug pusher, mga drug lords ang dapat nating hulihin. Pero ilagay natin sila sa isang isla na puro pating ang paligid, ano. I don't believe in the death penalty . . . Pero (dapat) parang Alcatraz na iba ang kanilang accommodation," she said.

" ’Yung mga drug lords ang ating habulin, ’wag ’yung mga small time."

Samira Gutoc, a critic of the Duterte administration who ran for senator but lost in 2016, recommended a drug prevention program. 

Gutoc, a crisis worker, said her home region, BARMM, does not have a single rehabilitation center for drug users.

"Evidence shows na di natin nai-install ang kinakailangang drug prevention programming regionwide, nationwide, pati 'yung mga education ng mga ating kabataan para umiwas sa droga ay 'di natin nabigyan ng investment," she said.

For Gutoc, the death penalty is not suitable for the country since most Filipino convicts are poor and need legal aid.

"Kailangan po muna lakasan ang pillars of justice . . . kailangan maeduka ang ating mga sibilyan para alam nila paano dumepensa sa kanilang karapatang pantao," Gutoc said.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, an outspoken critic of Duterte, said he has always believed that it is "the certainty of punishment not the severity that stops crime."

"Dito sa atin, napakababa ng conviction rate kaya haping-happy ang mga kriminal dito. Kailangan natin palakasin ’yung ating sistema ng hustisya. Kailangan ma-empower ang ating kapulisan na matuto silang kumuha ng sapat na ebidensiya, hindi lang para magsampa ng kaso, kung di makulong ang lahat ng mga salarin na ’yan," Diokno said.

Even though Philippine courts rule "a million death sentences" against criminals, the country's problem with illegal drugs and criminality will not be solved, said Diokno.

He said human life "came from God and that He is the only one who can take it back."

Former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista, meanwhile, called the Duterte administration's drug war "half-baked" for focusing too much on law enforcement while lacking efforts in rehabilitation and education of drug users.

"Sa law enforcement, tumutok tayo sa mga mahihirap na kababayan natin, kawawa naman. Pero ’yung mga malalaki na mga drug lord, di natin hinabol ng husto, lalo na ’yung mga foreigners. Andami niyan," he said.

Bautista echoed Gutoc and Diokno, saying the Philippines' justice system should first be strengthened and improved before the country even considers the return of the death penalty.

Lutgardo "Lutz" Barbo, a former ally-turned-critic of Duterte, said he also did not believe in death penalty.

"Death penalty is anti-poor, ang mga mahihirap 'di nakakakuha ng magagaling na abogado," he said.

"Bakit? Wala namang mangyayari, diversionary lang ito. Ang mga kriminal di na natatakot."

Malacañang last month defended itself, saying it "can't claim to be perfect" in its anti-narcotics crackdown as with any other program.

Its statement came after the justice department released information that indicated foul play in dozens of drug killings during the Duterte administration.

The Philippines has come under pressure from the United Nations to investigate allegations of systematic murders of drug suspects, and the International Criminal Court after announcing it would investigate Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

Duterte has said he will take "full responsibility" for his anti-narcotics crackdown.

At least 6,181 people have died in more than 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, according to the latest official data released by the Philippine government.

ICC prosecutors in court papers estimate the figure to be between 12,000 to 30,000 dead.

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