By Macon Araneta
Pro-death penalty senators pushed anew for the revival of the capital punishment on the heels of the shooting to death a mother and her son by a Paranaque policeman in Paniqui, Tarlac, last Sunday.
Currently, there are 10 pending death penalty bills in the upper chamber that were all referred to the Senate Committee on Justice.
The proposed measures imposing the maximum penalty of death were filed by eight out of 24 members of the Upper Chamber. They are Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Manny Pacquiao, Bong Revilla, Panfilo Lacscon, Bong Go, Sherwin Gatchalian, Imee Marcos and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Dela Rosa raised the possibility that the cold-blooded murders Sonya Gregorio, 55, and her 25-year-old son Frank Anthony Gregorio could not have happened if the death penalty had been passed.
“That rouge cop deserves the death penalty,” said the Senator, referring to Police Senior Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca.
“Sino pa ang gustong pumatay ng tao kung alam nyang papatayin din sya (with the) death penalty?” he said.
The former police and corrections chief said killing is considered a heinous crime that should be punishable by death. “But until now the death penalty bill I authored is having a hard time hurdling Congress,” lamented Dela Rosa, also an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been pushing for the death penalty reimposition.
“My bill covers high level drug trafficking while Sen. Bong Go’s bill covers heinous crimes. So, if our death penalty bills were tackled by the referred committee then chances are that it will be consolidated together with the Sotto, Lacson, Pacquiao, Gatchalian, Marcos and Revilla death penalty bills and contained in a substitute bill to be submitted by the referred committee. But unluckily, no hearing was done since the opening of the 18th congress.”
Pacquiao said, “(Nuezca) probably thought our law was weak and he would afford only be imprisoned for the heinous crime he committed.” said Pacquiao.
Revilla said the Tarlac shooting is a compelling case for the reinstitution of the death penalty.
Lacson, a former PNP chief said police should “show no mercy” to Nuezca. He also filed a bill to re-institute the death penalty.
Under his proposed measure, crimes punishable by death include treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and illegal detention, robbery with violence and intimidation of persons, destructive arson, and human trafficking, among others.
Sotto conceded that senators are unlikely to pass a measure for the death penalty revival. But he believes that if capital punishment would be applied only to high-level drug trafficking, then it would have a better chance of hurdling the Senate.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Justice committee expressed reluctance in deliberations on the death penalty bills even as it was one of the priority legislation outlined by Duterte in his SONA.
Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri also maintained his opposition to the reimposition of death penalty. “As a Red Cross member for over 20 years, we believe life is sacred. So, I maintain my anti-death penalty stance,” he said.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, whose father founded the Jesus Is Lord Movement, said nothing has changed on his objection to the revival of death penalty.