Press Release
July 29, 2020

Privilege Speech on Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking

Mr. President, my esteemed colleagues in this August Chamber, good afternoon.

I stand before you today to share my heartfelt sentiment on a topic that has been my personal advocacy since I won the Senate seat last May 2019. This is the legislative proposal to restore the death penalty for drug trafficking cases in the country.

As a former military officer, law enforcement officer and Bureau of Corrections Chief, and now as a lawmaker, I cannot, and will never be, at peace as I continue to witness, with so much desolation, the sufferings of our countrymen and women in the hands of drug-crazed individuals. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who pushed for the reinstatement of death penalty since the start of his 2016 presidential campaign, reiterated this call in his State of the Nation Address in 2017. President Duterte underscored his request for Congress to "act on all pending legislations to reimpose the death penalty on heinous crimes --- especially on the trafficking of illegal drugs".[1] He again made his appeal on his 4th SONA last July 2019.[2] And in his penultimate SONA speech last July 27, the President reiterated the "swift passage of a law reviving the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002."[3]

The punishment of death finds its legal anchor in the 1987 Constitution, under Article III, Section 19, Paragraph 1, which expressly provides:

"Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua."

Pursuant to this mandate, Republic Act 7659, otherwise known as "An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on Certain Heinous Crimes, amending for the Purpose the Revised Penal Laws, As Amended, Other Special Laws, and for Other Purposes" was approved on December 13, 1993. Under this law, particularly under its second whereas clause, crimes punishable by death are those that are "heinous for being grievous, odious and hateful offenses and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society."

Marami po ang nagtatanong: gaano kaepektibo ang pagpataw ng parusang kamatayan sa pagsugpo ng kriminalidad sa ating bansa? Napatunayan na ba na ang hatol ng parusang kamatayan ay magtatanim ng takot sa mga masasamang loob, kung kaya't bababa na ang insidente ng karumaldumal na krimen? Do we necessarily prove, through statistics and hard facts, that death penalty indeed, will deter the commission of heinous crimes in the future?

For these questions, it is important to look back and reflect the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of People vs. Echagaray (G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997):

"Article III, Section 19 (1) of the 1987 Constitution simply states that Congress, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, may re-impose the death penalty.

Nothing in the said provision imposes a requirement that for a death penalty bill to be valid, a positive manifestation in the form of a higher incidence of crime should first be perceived and statistically proven following the suspension of the death penalty. Neither does the said provision require that the death penalty be resorted to as a last recourse when all other criminal reforms have failed to abate criminality in society. It is immaterial and irrelevant that R.A. No. 7659 cites that there has been an 'alarming upsurge of such crimes,' for the same was never intended by said law to be the yardstick to determine the existence of compelling reasons involving heinous crimes.

Fittingly, thus, what R.A. No. 7659 states is that 'the Congress, in the interest of justice, public order and rule of law, and the need to rationalize and harmonize the penal sanctions for heinous crimes, finds compelling reasons to impose the death penalty for said crimes.'"

On 24 June 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act No. 9346, entitled "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines".

Section 1 of this law states:

"The imposition of the penalty of death is hereby prohibited. Accordingly, Republic Act No. Eight Thousand One Hundred Seventy-Seven (R.A. No. 8177), otherwise known as the Act Designating Death by Lethal Injection, is hereby repealed. Republic Act No. Seven Thousand Six Hundred Fifty-Nine (R.A. No. 7659), otherwise known as the Death Penalty Law, and all other laws, executive orders and decrees, insofar as they impose the death penalty are hereby repealed or amended accordingly."

On 20 September, 2006, the Philippines signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, and ratified it on November 20, 2007.

Under Article 1 of this Protocol, State Parties have agreed that:

"1. No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed.

2. Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction."

With the death penalty law archived in the annals of our legislative mills, and with the ratification of Second Optional Protocol, the country has witnessed the horrors of increasing trend of crime rates, particularly those that involve drug trafficking.

According to a news article published in January 29, 2017, the Philippines saw a decrease in crime rate when the death penalty was imposed for heinous crimes in 1993. Crime rate decreased from 145.7 in 1993 to 98 in 1998.[4]

Based on the official data from the Philippine National Police, there was a decreasing trend in the number of heinous crimes committed from the time the death penalty was restored in 1993 through RA 7659. Hence, the 17,166 heinous crimes recorded that year, this number drastically went down to 12,636 in 2005, a year before RA 9346, the Anti-Death Penalty Law, was enacted.

If you can see on the graph Mr president, it is a declining trend.

PNP statistics shows that from 12,080 heinous crimes committed in 2006, this number of cases horribly increased to 23,099 in 2016.

That's the second graph, the trend is very much increasing.

Nagpatuloy ang pananalasa ng karahasang dulot ng bawal na gamot sa ating bansa. Marahil sa pag iisip ng mga gumagamit ng droga, madaling lusutan ang krimen at posibleng bilhin ang hustisya.

Habang ang buong bansa ay nagtitiis sa mga karumal dumal na krimen sa ating lipunan, dumarami pa ang mga insidente ng drug trafficking na patuloy na naghahasik ng kasamaan sa ating mamamayan.

Idagdag pa natin dito ang aking personal na karanasan sa loob ng bilibid when I was the Director General of the Bureau of Corrections wherein ako ay sinabihan ng isang prominent na Chinese drug lord, convicted drug lord, na 'Sir kung gusto nyo talagang matakot kami na mag-traffic ng drugs sa Pilipinas ibalik nyo ang death penalty. Kaya namin paborito ang Pilipinas na bahain ng shabu dahil wala kayong death penalty dito at kahit na kami ay mahuli at kami ay makonbikto, pag kami'y nakakulong dito sa bilibid, kahit anong effort ninyo diyan na patayin ang signal, ubusin ang aming mga cellphone dito sa loob para wala kaming komunikasyon sa aming drug network sa labas, hindi pa rin yan uubra sir dahil hindi ninyo mababawal ang visitation rights. Dahil pag kami ay inyong pinigilan sa aming visitation rights, kami ay pupunta sa human rights because that is our basic human right - to be visited by our loved ones. So ang aming transaksyon sa iligal na droga ay hindi na dumadaan sa signal ng internet o ng cellphone kung hindi face to face contact na sa aming mga anak, sa aming mga asawa sa aming mahal sa buhay na pumupunta dito sa bilibid. So patuloy pa rin yung kanilang ginagawang drug transaction. And it was really observed that every time a big haul of drugs were confiscated anywhere in the Philippines, it traces back inside the bilibid. Pumupunta ako dito, pabalik dun. Ibig sabihin, sabi nga ng mga druglords doon - pag nandito na kami sa loob ng bilibid, di na kami takot mahuli dahil kami nahuli na. Hindi na kami takot na makulong, dahil kami ay nakakulong na. So they find bilibid a safe haven for the continuance of their drug trade.

With the Anti-Death Penalty enforced, and with the country's international commitment through the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol, it may be interesting to analyze the corresponding actions taken by our Government in the midst of the current law and order situation in the country.

Close scrutiny of the events reveals these facts:

Congress continued to propose legislative measures reviving the death penalty law.

There have been 29 death penalty bills filed in the House of Representatives since the 15th Congress with one Committee Report in the 17th Congress until the current Congress.

On the other hand, there have been 24 death penalty bills in the Senate since 14th Congress, and several committee hearings conducted by the Committees on Justice and Human Rights and on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs during the 14th to the 17thCongress.

Last year, our esteemed colleague, Senator Manny Pacquiao delivered a privilege speech on the revival of the capital punishment. In his said speech, the good gentleman from Sarangani called for the re-imposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes, particularly for drug trafficking. This is another positive indication that, at the very least, the need for rational and informed discourse on capital punishment is still alive, waiting to be deliberated on by this body.

One therefore begins to ponder on the following questions:

Are we, in Congress, precluded from deliberating the proposed measures on the revival of death penalty, in view of our international commitment under the Second Optional Protocol on ICCPR?

If the Philippines is a signatory to the 2nd protocol, is it necessarily restrained from passing laws that would restore death penalty?

If this is so, how do we reconcile our international obligations to observe this Protocol with our duty to abide by the constitutional mandate to provide or reimpose death penalty, "for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes"?

If Congress decides to deliberate on the death penalty bills, and eventually, to pass them into law, is the Philippines compelled to withdraw its signature and ratification from the 2nd Optional Protocol?

As we consider the answers to these questions, the country meanwhile continues to suffer from the effects of one of the grievous ills in our society, which is drug trafficking.

Drug trafficking is a serious offense. The United Nations Office of Drug and Crime defines drug trafficking as 'a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws.'[5]

Under Section 3, paragraph (R) of RA 9165, illegal trafficking is defined as: 'the illegal cultivation, culture, delivery, administration, dispensation, manufacture, sale, trading, transportation, distribution, importation, exportation and possession of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical.'[6]

Recent cases of drug trafficking all over the country have demonstrated the callous conscience of drug offenders.

On the morning of March 14, 2020, approximately 330 grams of shabu worth P5.2 million was confiscated in Davao City, resulting to the arrest of six individuals.[7]

On May 19, 2020 - itong lahat, Mr. President, ay mga pangyayari during the pandemic - 11 Chinese nationals and 1 Filipina were arrested in separate buy-bust operations in Manila and Parañaque. The total amount of suspected shabu seized was 41 grams, with a street value of P278,000.[8]

May 22, 2020 --- the PNP NCRPO Operatives and the PNP Drug Enforcement Group neutralized 2 drug suspects, recovering P81.6 million worth of illegal drugs. This was in Taguig City.[9] In Bohol, five individuals were arrested last May 25, 2020, and P40 million worth of suspected shabu was confiscated in separate buy-bust operations conducted by the Bohol PDEA.[10] The Philippine National Police raided a house in Marilao, Bulacan last June 4, 2020[11]. This police operation yielded 756 kilograms of suspected shabu, with an estimated value of P5.14 Billion from a Chinese National identified as Yuwen Cai, and 2 local constituents.

The anti-narcotics operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested a certain "Yusuf Sultan" during a buy-bust operations in Sta Rosa Laguna, where more than P3.4 million worth of suspected crystal meth or "shabu" was confiscated.[12]

Were it not for the highly sensitive intelligence work of our PNP and the PDEA, and their close coordination with other law enforcement agencies, these voluminous drugs would have found their way to numerous drug crazed individuals, many of whom have derived an enormous amount of money by trading these illegal substances.

And, as the vicious cycle of drug trade shows, buyers of these illegal drugs continue to plague the society by their obnoxious and atrocious acts, committed under the influence of prohibited drugs.

Ito po ang paulit ulit na malungkot na kwento tungkol sa naidudulot ng droga sa ating mamamayan. Walang piniliping biktima ang taong lulong sa bawal na gamot. Kahit saan, at kahit kailan, walang sinasanto ang taong nasa impluwensya ng droga.

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and in the middle of untold sufferings of our countrymen and women, these cruel and insensitive drug traffickers have continued their illegal trade among drug dealers and their salivating patrons.

Isa lang po ang ibig sabihin nito: habang abala ang ating kapulisan sa pagpapatupad ng community quarantine protocols, sinamantala ito ng mga drug traffickers sa pagpasok ng malalaking volume ng illegal na droga.

Mabuti na lamang at magagaling ang ating PNP at PDEA at nahuli ang mga ito.

Mr. President, this Representation is aware of the country's obligation to fulfill its commitment to international treaties, conventions, and other agreements, including Protocols. However, this Representation seeks the kind indulgence of this August chamber to, at the very least, deliberate on the issue of death penalty in the country.

Can we not objectively study the present crime scenarios, particularly those involving drug trafficking, its evil effects on our society and people? Is it not our corresponding constitutional duty as lawmakers to protect our people from the snares of criminality?

Granted, there will be those who will say that the death penalty has not been proven to be a deterrent to the commission of heinous crimes and drug trafficking, but in response I say: let us not close our doors to the possibility of discussion. Let us enrich statistical data with reasoned discourse in the proper fora, for the victims of heinous crimes and drug abuse are surely more than just data.

Hindi pa po ba sapat, Ginoong Pangulo, ang milyun-milyong halaga ng droga na umiikot sa bawat sulok ng ating bansa? Hindi pa ba sapat ang maraming buhay na nakitil at kinabukasan na naglaho dahil sa patuloy ng pag dami ng droga sa ating lipunan?

The enjoyment of the right to life, as envisioned in the Second Optional Protocol and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is indeed important. But have we not considered that this right may only be fully exercised if and when the people are safe from all forms of dangers, including the evils of drugs?

I lay down this concern before this body, with the fervent hope that all of us will heed the call of duty to put an end to the malady of drug trafficking vis-a-vis the death penalty. Let us begin the discussion on this important issue. Let us hear both sides of the arguments, whether for or against the re-imposition of the capital punishment in cases involving drug trafficking.

Let our minds and hearts speak, so that in the end, we may rest in the knowledge that we have armored our people with sufficient shield against the abysmal effects of drug trafficking in the country.

Thank you, Mr. President.


[1] Retrieved from:
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[3] Retrieved from: -of-the-Nation-Address-of-Rodrigo-Roa-Duterte-President-of-the-Philippines-tothe-Congress-of-the-Philippine.pdf
[4] Retrieved from:
[5] Retrieved from:
[6] Retrieved from:
[7] Retrieved from:
[8] Retrieved from:
[9] Retrieved from:
[10] Retrieved from:
[11] "Police Seize P5.1B worth of shabu in Bulacan", JC Gotinga, published on June 5, 2020, retrieved on 26 June 2020
[12] "PDEA bust chemist, accomplice; seizes over P3.4-M 'shabu' in Laguna; Consuelo Marquez, June 3, 2020, retrieved on June 26, 2020

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