2022 Philippine Elections

From being a staunch supporter of death penalty, Pacquiao says ‘Not now’

Aika Rey
From being a staunch supporter of death penalty, Pacquiao says ‘Not now’

DEATH PENALTY. Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Screenshot from Rappler video

Senator Manny Pacquiao says judicial reforms need to happen first. He wants a jury system in the Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao took a step back from being a staunch supporter of the revival of the death penalty.

In an interview on Thursday, January 27, Pacquiao told radio station DZBB that he really supports bringing back capital punishment but he said a lot of work needs to be done.

“Talagang boto ako sa death penalty, pero dito sa sitwasyon ng bansa natin ngayon, ‘wag na muna,” said Pacquiao. (I am really in favor of the death penalty, but in the current situation of our country, maybe not now.)

Pacquiao said that judicial reform needs to happen first, as he alleged that some judges are also corrupt.

“Maraming masisintensiyahan na walang mga kasalanan. Kawawa naman sila,” said Pacquiao. (A lot of people might be sentenced to death even if they are innocent. It would be a pity.)

But how long will it take for reform to happen? The senator said that it may take a “decade or two.”

It means that if capital punishment were to be reinstated, it will not be under Pacquiao’s presidency, if he wins.

To add, Pacquiao’s running mate House Deputy Speaker and Buhay Representative Lito Atienza does not support reinstating the death penalty, as a pro-life politician.

The senator also said that the judicial reform he is eyeing includes a shift to a jury system when asked if he supports a change in the system.

Kung jury system tayo, taumbayan ang huhusga. (If we have a jury system, it’s the people who will make judgements),” said Pacquiao.

In 2016, Pacquiao devoted his first privilege speech at the Senate to say that “God is for death penalty.” The Church later cricitized Pacquiao for using the Bible in justifying his stance.

Through the years that the boxer-turned-politician was in bed with President Rodrigo Duterte, Pacquiao pushed for the return of the death penalty as punishment for cases involving high-level drug traffickers.

Pacquiao even said that he prefers the execution to be done by a firing squad or lethal injection, and at one point, by hanging “because it is cheaper.”

Capital punishment was abolished in the Philippines in 2006 under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In the 17th Congress, senators rejected the passage of the bill, while the House of Representatives passed it on the 3rd and final reading.

In the 18th Congress, Albay 2nd district Representative Edcel Lagman, in a column on Manila Times, asserted that the death penalty bill is dead as Pacquiao and Senator Panfilo Lacson withdrew their support since running for the presidency. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.