Acting national police chief backs reviving capital punishment for big drug traffickers

Camille Elemia
2022.07.14
Manila
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Acting national police chief backs reviving capital punishment for big drug traffickers Activists carry signs as various groups protest to mark the final year in office of then-President Rodrigo Duterte near the Malacañang Palace in Manila, June 30, 2021.
[Basilio Sepe/BenarNews]

The acting Philippine police chief called on Thursday for reinstating capital punishment for big-time drug traffickers and so-called “high-value targets,” despite a relentless counter-narcotics crackdown by the previous government that just left office.

While new President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had said in an earlier interview that he did not believe the death penalty would reduce crime, Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao, the officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police, said the reinstatement of capital punishment was long overdue.

Danao said he supported a bill filed by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa – the former national police chief who had led the war on drugs – on reinstating the death penalty, abolished in 2006, for large-scale illegal drug trafficking.

“First of all, we know the harmful effects of illegal drugs on humans. Especially for those who are drug dealers who were caught with so many kilos of illegal drugs, I think it’s high time to really bring back the death penalty, especially in that aspect of illegal drugs,” Danao said.

Danao made the comments as the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to investigate former President Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless drug war that left thousands of suspected dealers and addicts dead.

Allaying fears that his bill is anti-poor, Sen. Dela Rosa said he was advocating the death penalty only for high-level drug traffickers.

“There’s no high-level drug trafficker who can be considered small-time. Those ordinary street drug pushers will not be included, only big-time drug traffickers,” Dela Rosa said in a television interview on July 8.

The senator is the ex-police chief who enforced Duterte’s controversial and bloody anti-drugs policy in its early stages before he himself became a politician. The former president was also in favor of capital punishment and under his administration, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation in 2017 to restore the death penalty, but the Senate blocked it.

Now, Dela Rosa is confident the measure will be approved because the new chairperson of the justice and human rights committee tasked to handle the proposal, Sen. Francis Tolentino, does not oppose capital punishment.

Dela Rosa has also said that given the chance, he would ask President Marcos to certify the measure as urgent.

But Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who is expected to become the next Senate President, said the Marcos administration was unlikely to prioritize the measure. Marcos is set to announce his priority legislative agenda during his first State of the Nation address on July 25.

The country’s Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly opposed proposals to revive the death penalty, saying it would violate obligations made under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Second Optional Protocol, which requires signatories to abolish the death penalty.

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