Duterte wants death for drug convicts: ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’

Mara Cepeda
President Rodrigo Duterte reiterates in his SONA that the 'essence' of the death penalty is retribution for the victims of heinous crimes

AFTER THE SONA. President Rodrigo Duterte talks to protesters outside Batasang Pambansa after his SONA on July 24. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte once again asked the 17th Congress to pass the bill reimposing the death penalty during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 24.  

In his speech, Duterte said the country must resort to the means that would eradicate the “menace of illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.” 

“I therefore ask Congress to act on all pending legislations to reimpose the death penalty on heinous crimes – especially on the trafficking of illegal drugs,” said Duterte. 

“In the Philippines, it’s really an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” added the President, reiterating his argument that the capital punishment is for the retribution of the victims of heinous crimes. (READ: An eye for an eye: Can the death penalty bring justice to victims?)

The President explained the country’s criminal justice system uses the Revised Penal Code, which he said was a law given by the Spaniards. 

“And those two books, the definition of crimes and the penalties and everything, and the thrust of that Revised Penal Code, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of retribution. That is why you have penalty,” he said.  

Duterte also mentioned cases of freed convicts in the United States, where several states have the death penalty. 

“And many times, there are sex offenders in America [who are] released – only to rape and kidnap again within months of release,” said Duterte. 

“You are so lenient about this about this son of a bitch, a human being that has a virulent brain and his enemy is society,” he added. 

Despite strong criticisms from pro-life groups, the House of Representatives passed in March the bill that would reimpose the death penalty on several drug-related offenses. (READ: A lethal mix? Death penalty and a ‘flawed, corrupt’ justice system)

The measure, however, is still pending in the Senate. Ahead of Duterte’s 2nd SONA, both Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Ralph Recto already said they will not be prioritizing the death penalty bill in the coming months. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.