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MANILA, Philippines – After taking a step back from his previous hard-line support for the imposition of the death penalty, presidential bet Manny Pacquiao made it known Sunday, April 3, he still favored the capital punishment against drug importers.
At the second presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections, candidates were asked about extrajudicial killings (EJK) brought by the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.
Pacquiao said that he rejected EJKs, but he would continue President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“Hindi ko papatayin lahat ng mga user diyan. Ang papatayan ko at i-public ko pa ay ’yung nagpapasok nito ng mga droga,” he said.
(I will not kill all of the users out there. But I will kill – and I will make the execution public – those who bring in drugs into the country.)
This statement came from Pacquiao, a pro-life candidate who touts due process.
“Sila (drug importers) ang salot. Sila ang dapat parusahan dahil kawawa ang iyong mga mahihirap at ’yon ang nadadamay ang mga user. Kaya pagdating ng panahon po, ’yung EJK issue ay hindi natin i-totolerate ’yan. ’Yung mga pulis na umaabuso, eh parusahan natin,” he said.
(They are a curse. They should be punished as they are the reason the poor are suffering and the users are affected. That’s why when the time comes, the EJK issue, we will not tolerate that. The abusive police, we will punish them.)
On Sunday, Pacquiao again used his time to hit survey front runner and dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Pacquiao reiterated his claim – twice during the debate – that drug traders have become bolder in bringing illegal drugs into the Philippines because the survey pacesetter, Marcos Jr., was cool on continuing the war on drugs.
He also said that he has been “collecting” the accomplishments of the police who were able to catch drug dealers and importers. “I have the evidence,” he said.
Earlier this year, Pacquiao said in an interview with radio station DZBB that he supported bringing back capital punishment but it would not be favorable under the current environment.
But Pacquiao’s version of the death penalty, at least in his pet bill that he had filed at the Senate in the 18th Congress, is for cases that involve illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking. Death penalty bills have been pending in the Senate justice and constitutional amendments committees.
Targetting absentee Marcos Jr.
Pacquiao has also taken his time to issue veiled comments against perennial debate absentee Marcos Jr.
Aside from the drug comment, Pacquiao also managed to hit Marcos Jr. on the issue of taxes when he answered the question about banning political dynasties.
“Ultimo nga pagbayad ng taxes eh di pa nasusunod eh. Desisyon na ng Supreme Court ’yan eh,” he said. (Even paying taxes, they couldn’t even follow it. The Supreme Court has already issued a decision.)
The Marcos family owed the government P203 billion in estate taxes, which has already ballooned after it was left unpaid for 23 years.
Pacquiao has consistently issued strong statements against Marcos Jr. and his family in the past days, in what appeared to be a shift in strategy leading to May 9.
Pacquiao was able to leverage time in some segments on Sunday, but unlike in the first debate, the senator was somewhat incoherent when he answered the question about migrant workers in the region.
The question was about ensuring the welfare of overseas Filipino workers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations but his answer was only tangentially relevant, focusing on his foreign policy.
He stuttered towards the end.
Pacquiao was also unable to provide a solid comeback on his stance that some political dynasties are “good” after presidential bet Jose Montemayor Jr. countered him.
“Gusto lang po nating i-remind si Sen. Pacquiao, with all due respect, na bawal na bawal ang political dynasty. Kaya lang nilagyan ng kalawit, ’yung ‘as may be provided by law.’ Anumang dahilan, maganda man o hindi, sabi ng batas, ng ating Constitution, ‘the state prohibits political dynasties.’ At dapat gawan ng paraan imbes na idepensa natin,” said Montemayor.
(I just want to remind Senator Pacquiao, with all due respect, that political dynasties are really prohibited. But there is a hook, ‘as may be provided by law.’ But whatever the reason, even if it’s good or not, according to the law, the Constitution, ‘the state prohibits political dynasties.’ And we should do something about it rather than defend it.)
Pacquiao’s response to Montemayor: “Kung pipigilan mo silang tumakbo, eh nalalabag natin ‘yong rights ng isang tao.” (If you do not allow them to run, you will impinge on the rights of a person.)
On the question that centered on detained Senator Leila de Lima, Pacquiao, who spoke during the time allotted for rebuttals, had to mention that he was “able to talk” to Ronnie Dayan, whose confession had been cast doubt in congressional hearings.
“Nakausap ko ang [dating] ka-partner ni Senator Leila de Lima, si Dayan, at nagconfess talaga na mayroon siyang binigay na pera. Pero mahirap naman po ’yon kung hindi idadaan sa due process,” he said, then went on to say that De Lima’s trial should be hastened.
(I was able to talk to Senator Leila de Lima’s ex-partner, Dayan, and he really confessed to giving money. But it’s really difficult if we don’t give her due process.)
While his performance on Sunday was less than stellar, Pacquiao has roughly three weeks to prepare in impressing the public. The third and final debate is on April 24. – Rappler.com