With the sound of guns firing in the background, we were able to catch Senator Ronaldo dela Rosa resting after finishing his rounds in some of the 18 stages of the Jess Dureza Cup ’19, a qualifier match for the AustralAsia 2019 and World Shoot 2020 at Seagull Inland Resort in Guihing, Davao del Sur.
Dela Rosa, known to many as “Bato”, along with Senators Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, and Cristopher “Bong” Go, filed separate death penalty bills at the start of the 18th Congress.
Capital punishment for drug traffickers was his first bill as Senator, a bill that he feels is “urgent” considering that even if the intensity of the war on drugs has escalated, shabu is still proliferating. His experience as Bureau of Corrections chief after he retired as PNP chief, made him realize that imposing the drug penalty on drug traffickers could stop the entry of shabu in the country. Bato said he has talked to convicted drug lords, some of them foreigners, and he was told that they chose Philippines because it does not have the death penalty for illegal drugs like Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
He said his version – which is specifically death penalty for drug traffickers, has a bigger chance of passing into law rather than adding heinous crimes and plunder. In the 17th Congress, the Lower House passed the bill on third reading but this was junked by the Senate for the reason that the bill was anti-poor.
He acknowledged that people would think only the poor will suffer the death penalty because they don’t have the capacity to defend themselves and pay good lawyers. “But I believe there is no small time drug trafficker – they are all big time.”
So how does he assess the anti-drug campaign three years into the PRRD administration? He said that if we compare the years of the pre-drug war and after three years of drug war, there is a huge difference. He said the initial documentation of the war on drugs during the first six months show a drop of 49 percent of the index crime volume.
“Go ask the people. If I go to their areas, many people are so thankful that their community has been cleared from drug addicts and drug trade, especially in slum areas,” he said.
We will avidly follow how our congressmen in both Houses will deal with this very controversial bill.