Senator sees uphill battle vs revival of death penalty

MANILA – Anti-death penalty senators led by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon face an uphill battle in the fight against the reimposition of capital punishment in the country.

Drilon said this as he observed a growing number of senators in the 18th Congress openly endorsing its passage.

But Drilon, a strong critic of the controversial bill restoring the death penalty, vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to block the proposal.

“We strongly and unequivocally oppose the reimposition of the death penalty. We are prepared to fight it all the way,” said Drilon.

The media reported that apart from Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Manny Pacquiao, Ronald Dela Rosa, Panfilo Lacson, and Christopher Go, who all authored bills reviving the death penalty, those who expressed support for it include Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Cynthia Villar, Imee Marcos, Aquilino Pimentel III, Juan Edgardo Angara, Pia Cayetano, Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, and Lito Lapid.

“It will be a tough fight considering that it is administration-backed legislation and a number of senators have openly endorsed its passage. Let alone our diminished number in the Senate,” he said.

“Notwithstanding these difficulties, we will do our best to prevent it. We will never allow the 18th Congress to give license to authorities to kill the poor,” Drilon assured.

The former justice secretary said that given the inadequacies of the justice system, to revive the death penalty is to give a death sentence to the poor, who will be made victims of this cruel and inhumane punishment.

“It has been proven time and again that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent to crimes. Only the poor will be made a victim of this measure,” he added.

Aside from Drilon, the members of the minority, Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Leila De Lima, who is detained, are also against the bill.

“No justice will be served if involves taking a life. Let’s be more rational, humane, independent, and conscientious in handling this very sensitive issue,” Drilon said.

Drilon said those anti-death penalty senators will count for support from the majority of Filipinos who expressed strong opposition to the restoration of the death penalty.

A Social Weather Stations survey last year showed that 7 out of 10 Filipinos are not in favor of imposing the death penalty on a number of serious crimes, he noted.

Drilon also reiterated that the Philippines is mandated no less than by the Constitution to honor its obligations under international treaties, which it ratified.

In 2007, the Philippines signed and ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, mandating the abolition of capital punishment

Drilon explained that said Protocol does not provide for any withdrawal or derogation mechanism, which means that parties to the Protocol cannot reinstate the death penalty without violating international law.

“Unless this issue is resolved, we cannot have a complete debate, because we will be back to the same question: can the Philippines reimpose death penalty without any regard to our treaty obligation?” he said. (Photo Source: