MANILA, Philippines – "Just kick the chair."
This is what neophyte senator Manny Pacquiao said on Monday, August 8, when asked about his preferred mode of death penalty, after his 1st privilege speech. (READ: Pacquiao's 1st privilege speech: God is for death penalty)
Senate Majority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III was the first to interpellate Pacquiao on his views on the controversial death penalty.
He asked the world boxing champion which of the 3 modes he preferred the most – lethal injection, hanging, or firing squad.
Pacquiao initially answered he would just let Congress decide on the matter, saying all he wants is the revival of the death penalty.
"Depende sa atin paano ieexecute ang death penalty. As long as ang death penalty ay mapapasa," he said.
(It depends on us how we will carry out death penalty. As long as the death penalty will be approved.)
But Sotto was not satisfied, saying the form of death penalty should be included in the law that Congress would pass.
"Meron nagsasabi na death by hanging, meron nagsasabi firing squad, meron nagsasabi lethal injection, naintindihan ko po ginagawa nila. Hanging nga pinakamatipid sa kanila e, firing squad ang matipid ng onti, ang mahal lethal injection at electric chair," Sotto said.
(There are some who say it should be death by hanging, some say firing squad, there are those who are for lethal injection, I understand them. Hanging is the cheapest, followed by firing squad. Lethal injection and electric chair are the most expensive.)
After prodding from the veteran senator, Pacquiao answered: "Para po sa akin sa ngayon e, nananaig ngayon ang hanging or firing squad." (For me now, I am leaning towards hanging or firing squad.)
Sotto then asked in jest, "Dahil mura o ano?" (Because those are cheap or what?)
"Sisipain lang po 'yung upuan (You will just kick the chair)," Pacquiao said, eliciting laughter from Sotto and other people inside the session hall.
The young senator, at this point facing away from the podium, returned and joked some more: "Puwede lang po natin sabihin na natumba ang upuan e." (We can just say the chair fell.)
This exchange did not sit well with Senator Francis Pangilinan.
Before ending his interpellation, Pangilinan took the opportunity to call out his colleagues for making fun of ending other people's lives.
"Just one more point: Earlier perhaps out of levity, para mawala konting kaba, medyo may agam-agam ako dahil nagtatawanan tayo sa gallery tungkol sa pagbitay. E sa akin po 'di ho biro ang buhay ng ating kababayan. Sana po maging mas sensitibo tayo sa usapin po ng pagkitil ng buhay ng kapwa," Pangilinan said.
(Just one more point: Earlier perhaps out of levity, to let go of the nervousness, I was concerned that you were laughing in the gallery about the topic of death penalty. For me, the lives of our countrymen should not be a laughing matter. I hope we can be more sensitive in talking about ending other people's lives.)
"Siguro nga ho ito'y dala lang ng nerbyos, nagtawanan po tayo, pero sana po iwasan nating maging katatawan o binibiro biro po ang usapin ng kamatayan ng ating kapwa," he added.
(Maybe it was caused by nervousness, we were laughing, but I hope we'll avoid making jokes about others' deaths.)
Pacquiao immediately apologized and owned up to his mistake.
"Pasensya na po sa anumang maling aksyon namin. I always stand corrected sa mga pagkakamali kong nagawa o pagkukulang na 'di kanais-nais na aksyon," he said.
(I apologize for our wrong actions. I always stand corrected whenever I do something wrong or when I have shortcomings, unpleasant actions.)
Pacquiao's privilege speech, including the interpellation of 6 senators, lasted for more than 2 hours. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org