Lacson, Sotto now against death penalty, instead want PH version of 'Alcatraz'

Senators Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto III, authors of bills pushing for the death penalty in the Philippines, are now against the measure.

The two came out with the stand on Thursday, November 4, in a Meet the Press briefing with reporters to explain their platforms as they run for the top two positions in the government in 2022.

The two said they had the same reason for withdrawing their support for death penalty: they fear wrongly sending an innocent person to their demise.

"Saving the life of a wrongly convicted person has more weight. My view changed, I now withdraw my bill," Lacson said.

Lacson filed a death penalty bill in 2019, while Sotto filed his own in 2014. Sotto also explained that they found another solution to properly punish convicts.

The better solution?

Lacson and Sotto want an Alcatraz-type penitentiary in the Philippines.

Alcatraz was a maximum-security penitentiary on an island in the United States. It was shuttered in 1963 because it was too expensive to maintain a penitentiary off the mainland. (READ: Zubiri wants Alcatraz-type 'heinous crime penitentiary')

Sotto said he has even consulted former House speaker and current Partido Reporma president Pantaleon Alvarez about the plan. Alvarez apparently already had an island in mind.

"I asked if there were sharks. He said 'If there are no sharks, I will put sharks'," Sotto said, jokingly.

Lacson and Sotto said that convicts who committed heinous crimes and high-level drug trafficking should be imprisoned on the island and made to suffer "for life."

The Alcatraz pitch is a part of the tandem's plan to reform the prison system in the Philippines. They want each region to have its penitentiary to replace the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, which is known to be rife with corruption and infested with gangs. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.