Duterte pushes for return of death penalty for drug crimes, plunder

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 22, asked Congress to reinstate death penalty for "heinous crimes related to illegal drugs and plunder."

The reimposition of the death penalty was the first priority legislative measure he mentioned in his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress.

Before he made his call, he highlighted how illegal drugs kept by terrorists in Marawi had led to military action on May 23, 2017, that developed into a 5-month siege  between state forces and extremists.

"It pains me to say that we have not learned our lesson. The illegal drug problem persists," said Duterte.

The President has pushed for the reinstatement of the death penalty since he was a 2016 presidential candidate. He had called for capital punishment also in his second SONA in 2017.

Among his disciples and most trusted aides, former police chief Ronald dela Rosa, won in the 2019 senatorial elections with a single campaign promise: bringing back the death penalty for drug traffickers.

The House of Representatives, in the 16th Congress, had passed a death penalty measure for drug-related crimes.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said earlier on Monday that death penalty bill would be among the first measures to be debated in the Senate in the 18th Congress. Sotto said, however, that limiting the reimposition of capital punishment to high-level drug traffickers stood a better chance of passage in the Senate than other versions. – Rappler.com 

For highlights of President Duterte’s 4th SONA, check out our live blog.

Rappler takes a deeper look at the first half of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency – its highs and lows, its achievements and shortcomings: 
Duterte Year 3: The Halfway Mark

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.