Drilon: Senate not inclined to pass death penalty bill
Sen. Manny Pacquiao argues for the death penalty for drugs and other heinous crimes at a public hearing in February. Senate PRIB/Cesar Tomambo, file
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Wednesday that he does not see the Senate passing a bill to reimpose the death penalty with opposition to the proposal crossing party lines.
"It’s not simply because of the LP (Liberal Party), but because individually or collectively the senators think we should not impose the death penalty. In fact, there are seven from the majority coalition today in the Senate who are against the reimposition of the death penalty and six from the minority," Drilon, a former Senate president, said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay Forum.
There are eight bills in the Senate imposing the death penalty for various crimes. All of them are pending at the committee level.
"No hearing has been held, except for one. From my own reading, there are about 13 senators who will vote against the reinstatement of the death penalty. I don’t see how it can pass for the next five weeks, or for that matter during this Congress, unless a number of senators will change their minds. There are six in the minority who will oppose the bill and our ally in the LP, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto. I don’t see the death penalty being approved by Congress," he said.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, among the champions for the death penalty in the Senate, said it will give the law more teeth.
"We must speak to these criminal minds in the only language they understand. They must understand that our government will put a stop to impunity. They have profited from thousands upon thousands of Filipino youths. It must stop now," he said in February.
Pacquiao, who quotes the Bible in committee hearings, said the death penalty "is lawful, moral and sanctioned governmental action."
He said that "having read the Bible on a regular basis, I am convinced that God is not just a God of mercy but he is also a God of justice."
Deterrence and punishment
Opponents of the reimposition of the death penalty say that it is not an effective deterrent to crime, is an inhumane form of punishment and will violate international agreements that the Philippines is party to.
Supporters of the proposal, including President Rodrigo Duterte, have said that aside from deterrence, the death penalty is about making criminals pay for their crimes. Proponents of the bill at the House of Representatives, which has already passed a counterpart bill, have said that the death penalty is a choice between having "judicial killings" and extrajudicial killings.
Drilon said it is still not clear whether the Philippines is barred from reimposing the death penalty by international treaty, a matter that put hearings at the Senate on hold.
"The issue was whether or not the Second Optional Protocol was ratified and the opinion of the Secretary of Justice is sought. Again, the situation is the previous administration, specifically President (Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo and then Secretary of Foreign Affairs, that, with the law which prohibited the imposition of death penalty, we are deemed to have ratified the Second Optional Protocol," he said.
The Department of Justice has yet to submit its legal opinion on the issue, he said.