Duterte asks lawmakers to revive death penalty

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, July 9, met with his allies in Congress in Davao City and asked them to revive the death penalty.

Among the lawmakers present were senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Sonny Angara, Masbate 3rd District Representative Scott Davies Lanete, and Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Representative Sherwin Tugna.

“It was a casual gathering with some officials so we discussed many things. He also showed us Davao’s emergency center including their crime and traffic management system,” Angara told Rappler.

In the meeting that ended in the wee hours of Sunday, July 10, Angara said the President asked them to pass the proposed measure reimposing the death penalty. (READ: Duterte: Death penalty is retribution)

“The President mentioned he thought we should bring back the death penalty especially for drug traffickers,” Angara said.

The senator said Duterte mentioned that many public officials are involved in illegal drugs – a form of “treason” as they should be the ones protecting Filipinos from harm.

Duterte's allies in Congress – presumptive Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and newly-elected Senator Manny Pacquiao – have already filed bills echoing the President's desire to bring back the death penalty, a move that will supposedly deter crimes.

Angara, for his part, is non-committal on the controversial measure. For him, he would first listen to all sides before making a decision.

“I’m open to listen to the proposals which have been put forward,” he said.

Duterte had long told allies in Congress that he prefers death penalty by hanging to lethal injection, drawing flak from critics and human rights advocates.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have pointed out that there is no evidence to prove that the imposition of capital punishment deters crime.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution abolished the death penalty but allowed Congress to provide for it for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes. It was imposed in 1993, but was again abolished in 2006. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com