Bato: Death penalty bill for drug trafficking 'not anti-poor'

MANILA, Philippines – "Not anti-poor."

This is what Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa told reporters on Thursday, July 4 about his filing a bill reimposing death penalty, but only for heinous crimes involving high-level drug trafficking.

"'Yung bill daw anti-poor. Hindi na 'yan. Anti-big time 'yan, 'yang mga drug trafficking 'yan," Dela Rosa said.

(The bill they say is anti-poor. I don't think so. It's anti-bigtime, those involved in drug trafficking.)

Dela Rosa defended his bill from criticisms that those without money for legal defense will be targetted by the reimposition of capital punishment.

"Maraming nag-ooppose, isa na doon sa position nila na parang anti-poor measure dahil ang mabibitay dun 'yung mahihirap lang mabibitay, 'yung walang pang-gastos sa depensa nila sa kaso. Wala namang drug trafficker na pobre," Dela Rosa said.

(There are a lot of people opposing it, and one of their positions include that it's anti-poor because the poor will be executed because they don't have money for legal defense. But there are no drug traffickers that are poor.)

Dela Rosa said that death penalty will surely be a "deterrent" against importation of drugs in the country, and mentioned particularly high-level Chinese drug traffickers.

"Deterrence talaga 'yan. Sampolan natin. Firing squad natin sa Luneta. Tignan natin kung maghakot sila ng shabu dito satin," the top cop-turned-senator said.

(It's really a deterrent. Let's give them an example. Let's do a firing squad in Luneta. Let's see if they will still bring shabu (methamphetamine) here.)

He said that apart from the importers, those who helped facilitate the entry of illegal drugs in the country should be punished as well.

Dela Rosa's "partner from Davao," Senator Christopher "Bong" Go filed a bill reinstating death penalty as well, but this included cases involving plunder apart from illegal drugs.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III doubted that the provision involving plunder would be supported by other senators.

Dela Rosa echoed Sotto's sentiment.

"Baka hindi makalusot 'yan. Baka madamay pa 'yung death penalty ko for high-level drug traffickers... Break it to me gently," Dela Rosa said.

(It might not be approved. It might affect my death penalty bill for high-level drug traffickers. Break it to me gently.)

Apart from Dela Rosa, Senator Manny Pacquiao also filed a bill reinstating capital punishment for drug traffickers. Pacquiao also raised the penalties for crimes involving illegal drugs.

In the 17th Congress, senators rejected the passage of the death penalty bill, while the House of Representatives passed it on third and final reading. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.