MANILA - After an off-duty policeman killed 2 unarmed civilians in Tarlac, Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa on Wednesday suggested including murder committed by police officers among crimes punishable by the death penalty, amid a fresh push for its revival.
Under his Senate Bill No. 226, only high-level drug traffickers may be sentenced to capital punishment. After what he called the "cold-blooded" killing by police officer Jonel Nuezca of a mother and her son- an incident caught on video- he said senators may discuss additional provisions when hearings on death penalty bills begin.
"I didn’t want to include murder and other heinous crimes kasi 'yan 'yung point of contention ng mga oppositor, na 'yun 'yung puwedeng 'yung mga suspect dahil nga mahirap hindi makalaban sa korte, talo. So justice denied para sa kanila," he told ANC's Headstart.
(I didn't want to include murder and other heinous crimes because that was the point of contention of oppositors, that poor suspects can't fight fairly in court and will lose. That is justice denied for them.)
"Pero with that kind of incident, ma-amend natin 'yung mga bill na 'yan during the debates. Baka puwedeng isaksak na 'pag ikaw ay isang pulis, then aggravating circumstance 'yan eh. Pulis ka, may chapa ka, may baril ka, then ikaw pa ang mag-engage sa cold-blooded killing, papatayin mo 'yung unarmed civilians, helpless civilians. Pwede siguro isaksak natin during the debates," he said.
(But with this kind of incident, we can amend the bill during the debates. Maybe we can add there that if you're a police officer, that's an aggravating circumstance. You're a police officer, you have a badge, you have a gun, and you engage in cold-blooded killing, you kill unarmed civilians, helpless civilians. Maybe we can add that during the debates.)
Apart from Dela Rosa, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Christopher "Bong" Go, Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Sherwin Gatchalian, Imee Marcos and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. also filed measures seeking to reimpose death penalty in the country.
The Philippines was the first Asian country to abolish death penalty in 1987, but President Fidel V. Ramos reinstated it in response to increasing crime rates during his administration. It was abolished once again under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006.
Its reimposition was a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, as he pushed for the deterrence of crime and eradication of drug syndicates in the country.
Dela Rosa lamented that the Senate has yet to begin hearing these bills despite being submitted at the start of the 18th Congress.
Public discourse on the death penalty were sparked earlier this week after Nuezca, an off-duty police officer, was caught on video shooting dead Sonia and Frank Anthony Gregorio in Tarlac. Both civilians were unarmed.
Dela Rosa believes having such capital punishment could have deterred the murder and that Nuezca himself deserves the death penalty for it. The officer has been charged for the murders.