Press Release
February 8, 2017

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III

On the Death Penalty

SP Koko Pimentel: ...or a tool of the state to control criminality or to impose law and order. Hindi naman based on religion ang aking stand. I can change my mind. If it is formally made, a party position, tama po yon. If we have a party position, you have to toe the line. Kapag dating sa Senate, I am the only party member so I toe the line. I tell myself to toe the line. Si Manny Pacquaio pa pala, but he's the author. Ok naman ako because I am flexible, hindi siya based on any religious belief or biblical.

Q: But you know kung kelan madedesisyunan?

SPKP: That takes time because we live in a parcipatory and consultative democracy so we will consult. In this high-tecvh age, kaya naman naming yun pero nagkita kami ni Speaker kagabi but hindi naman na-raise yan. Pag-naraise yan, ayusin namin.

Q: Sir, sa House ilan yung members ng PDP-Laban? What would happen to those who won't toe the line?

SPKP: 110. Of course, disciplinary. Masyado pa premature because it is not yet a party stand. Once he made a party stand, party members are expected to follow. There should be some disciplinary but hindi automatic ang sanctions. They should leave the party, be warned by the party, or be suspended by the party.

Q: Yung pronouncements ni Alvarez, unofficial ng PDP?

SPKP: I think as Speaker yon. But to make it a party stand, nag-usap ulit kami. Malaki ang chance kasi ang vice chairman namin si Secretary Cusi who is also in favor of the death penalty, alter-ego siya ng Presidente. Aguirre, Mike Sueno is with us. Malaki ang chance that the Speaker can convince high-ranking party officers to make this a party stand.

Q: If ever, you will vote sir for the death penalty kapag ganoon?

SPKP: Let's say ayoko ng party stand, outvoted ako, yung nagging party stand, I toe the line. Pero wala pa tayo sa detalye. Ang aking personal ano, if we are to use the death penalty as a tool against criminality, we have to make it very limited to the most heinous of crimes as of the moment.

Q: Ano yung most heinous?

SPKP: Yun ang idedetermine. Ngayon, as of the moment, attention is being brought to the enormity of the drug situation in the Philippines. So, maybe it is drug-related. The most heinous crimes as of the moment.

Q: Pero may possibility din na mag-defy kayo based sa discussion hindi kayo ma-convince.

SPKP: Tutulong na nga ako to make it this way. Let's make it narrow. Let's not enlarge the grounds.

Q: Do you agree on principle?

SPKP: Wala akong problema because my initial resistance to the reimposition of the death penalty is not based on religion. It's policy. You can change your mind about policies.

Q: Do you see this being passed before the Holy Week adjournment...

SPKP: Mahirap iyon because ira-rush naming siya. "Rush" in a sense because nasa priority siya. Priority siya ng presidente. Wala siya sa priority ng Congress.Priority siya ng Presidente. So, that's a wish list of the president, ipa process namin. But, there is a good prejudicial question na lumabas kahapon about treaties. The effect of treaties on our country's laws, our ability to pass domestic laws. So pag-aaralan muna iyon. Kapag na clear na iyon and back to death penalty tayo. So, nagkaroon tayo ng parang prejudicial question.

If SPKP is included on pro and anti votes on the death penalty. (According to Sen. Gordon, 10 out of 24 are in favor of the death penalty)

SPKP: Hindi. Kasi ang bilang sa akin ni Sen. Chiz kahapon ay eight, eight, eight daw e. So, there are eight clearly in favor, eight clearly are against, and eight na undeclared. Doon niya ako nilagay sa undeclared.

If SPKP is in favor that he belonged to the eight undeclared votes

SPKP: Oo. Kasi open mind e. Iyong eight na iyon open mind. Meaning to say... you can change our minds. Hindi naman kami ... that is not based on religion, that is not based on the bible. It is not based on science or whatever. Just policies.

On what will convince SPKP to change his mind on the death penalty

SPKP: If it needed by the times, I am very open to do it. But, it must be very narrow. Or, it must be imposed only for the most heinous of all crimes as of the moment.

On the statement of the Columbian former President to President Duterte about not to commit the same mistakes of what he did of killing drug addicts

SPKP: Common sense na iyon e. Killing people is not the solution. You are enforcing the law, we are against drugs because it destroys people. So, how can we kill people to protect people? So killing people is not really the answer to any problem. Pero iyong sinabi ni former Presidente Cesar Gaviria, like for example the decriminalization of the drug problem, that is wrong. Kasi, we dealing now with synthetic drugs. This is not marijuana, marijuana. Synthetic drugs ha. We cannot ever even entertain making the use of making synthetic drugs as legal. No way.

On whether President Duterte considers it

SPKP: Wala iyong ganoon e. The point is we have to enforce the law. We have to go after the importers of the drugs, we have to go after the manufacturers of the drugs, we have to go after the big time distributors of the drugs. Iyon po. Huwag naman... When I say go after in accordance with law. Hindi din sila papatayin. Dahil wala namang death penalty dito e. Kahit may death penalty, wala din namang karapatan ang mga law enforcers to summarily implement death penalty. In accordance with law, huli, kulong, kaso. Iyon dapat ang gagawin. And then, concentrate tayo sa mga sinabi ko. Huwag na iyong 'user'. Kasi ang mga 'user' nga naman ay ang mga naging victim. Dapat si 'user' should be responsible enough to discontinue using drugs. Pero kung let us say si 'user' ay naging distributor na rin... ay pasensya.

If it is not our policy to kill

SPKP: Never. Never. No country, especially the Philippines should not apply the policy to kill. Wala nga tayong death penalty. Kapag may death penalty, very limited din ang mga makapatay. Which is ang mag implement niyan is ang mga very selected na mga number of people.

On the decision of the president to throw the erring policemen to Mindanao SPKP: Well, siguro dahil sa ito yung mga walang mga kaso. May mga infraction lang ata itong mga ito. Yung mga may infraction or may mga hinala pero yung mga may kaso talaga na pagpatay dapat dyan ay kasuhan para maalis na sa police force. So parang ang ginagawa ni president is send them to violence prone Mindanao parang pressure sa kanila to rethink if they still want to belong to the PNP or not.

Q: Where do you draw the line dun sa heinous crime classification, yung synthetic heinous crime. How about yung home grown?

SPKP: Siguro dun tayo sa high level. Ito yung mga words na hahanapin natin - high level or big time drug trafficking. Dun tayo sa volume, quantity and sa kind. Ililista siguro natin which drugs.

Q: Kasi po meron na pong findings na medicinal yung marijuana?

SPKP: Well, that is like the deterrent effect of death penalty - debatable. Ganun din yung death penalty.

Q: Nagexpress po ng concern si Senator Drilon dun sa possibility na ma-arrest siya because of drug charges. In his case, ano yung magiging process?

SPKP: If a senator theoretically has a pending criminal case filed by the prosecutor before the court and the court issues a warrant of arrest and involves an imprisonment of more than six years, no exemption.

Q: Pwede iderecho sa regular court?

SPKP: Fiscal. Prosecutor will file.

Q: Hindi po ba pwede sa Sandiganbayan or Ombudsman?

SPKP: Depende na kasi in relation to your office. Drug dealing kasi is never in relation to your office.

Q: So no exemptions?

SPKP: We enjoy some immunities and priviliges that is under the law but if it is more than six years even the privilege from arrest, we do not enjoy.

Q: So yung kasong ganyan talagang bagsak sa regular court?

SPKP: I can be wrong kasi jurisdiction yan pwedeng pagdebatihan ng mga lawyers yan. Off hand, if the allegation is drug dealing by a public official, how can we argue that it is connected with the work? Parang incidental lang yung pagkapublic official niya.

Q: Sir, yung rule na an arrest warrant cannot be served when the Congress is in session, kelan magaapply yun?

SPKP: For six years and below. And while we are in session. So kahit six years and below and we are on break, pwede. Siyempre, hindi kami exempted from criminal liability. Sobra na yun. Yun lang yung mga konting concession ng state for legislators.

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