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Labor Senate bet wants death penalty for corrupt politicians, drug sellers

MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial candidate Allan Montaño aims to push for death penalty for corrupt politicians and those involved in the illegal drug trade if he wins in the 2019 midterm elections.

In a Rappler Talk interview on Monday, April 8, Montaño defended his stance and said that death penalty is "not anti-poor."

"I don't see na 'yung aking adbokasiya is anti-poor. Kung seryoso tayong solusyunan 'yung problem natin sa korapsyon, why not impose death penalty? Kung intensyon mo magnakaw, hindi ka na tatakbo talaga. Hindi talaga rewarding," Montaño said.

(I don't see that my advocacy is anti-poor. If we are serious in ending our problem of corruption, why not impose death penalty? If your intention is to steal [funds], then you will no longer run. Because it's not rewarding.)

Montaño said that he is proposing death penalty to be imposed upon those who will be found guilty of plunder.

Through Republic Act (RA) No. 7659 signed into law by former president Fidel Ramos, RA 7080 or the plunder law was amended to punish convicted public officers with "reclusion perpetua to death" in December 1993.

But through RA 9346, the Philippines abolished death penalty in 2006 under then-president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who remains opposed to the restoration of capital punishment.

Under the law, a public official can be charged with plunder if the accused has accumulated ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least P50 million through overt or criminal acts. (READ: Plunder cases in the Philippines: Was anyone punished?)

"I'm proposing death penalty be imposed upon those who will be found guilty of plunder. From P50 million, i-reduce natin [a]ng amount to P10 million. 'Pag P1 million, life sentence. (From P50 million, let's reduce the amount to P10 million. If they acquired P1 million, the penalty should be life sentence," Montaño said.

The labor lawyer also took a swipe at senatorial bets who have political advertisements on big television networks.

He claimed that those candidates will only look for ways to reimburse their campaign expenses with government funds. He said they will no longer run for office if plunder is punishable by death.

"'Yang may mga TV ads na 'yan, ibig sabihin gagastos ka. Magkano lang ang sweldo ng senador? Let's say P200,000. Magkano ang TV ads? Hundreds of millions. Hindi na tatakbo 'yan because sa'n ka kukuha ng pambawi?" Montaño said

(Those who have TV ads have big expenses. How much is the salary of a senator? Let's say P200,000. How much are TV ads? Hundreds of millions. They will no longer run because where will they look for money?)

Montaño also proposed death penalty for manufacturers and distributors of illegal drugs, as well as those who commit complex crimes that also took human lives.

"Kaya natin pinopropose 'yan dahil nga wala nang katigil-tigil na problema dahil nga wala nang kinakatakutan. 'Pag walang death penalty, kahit nasa loob na ng kulungan, tuloy pa rin ang transaction ng drugs. But for sure, walang manufacturer na mahirap, walang distributor na mahirap," the labor lawyer said.

(The reason why we are proposing that is because the problem with drugs seems to be never-ending. Without death penalty, even if they are in jail, drug transaction still continues. But for sure, no manufacturer or distributor of drugs is poor.)

Montaño is an independent candidate who is part of the Labor Win coalition. He ran for senator in 2016 under the Binay-led United Nationalist Alliance, but lost.

Montaño joins other senatorial bets who want to push for capital punishment for plunder, among them former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla who were both involved in the multimillion pork barrel scam. (READ: Pork Tales: A story of corruption)

In 2017, the House of Representatives' initial draft of the death penalty bill included plunder among the list of punishable crimes. But it was later removed due to strong opposition from lawmakers. Only drug-related crimes were included in the final House bill seeking to reimpose the capital punishment. 

The measure remains pending at the Senate. – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com

Aika Rey

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

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