Death penalty would not scare drug lords

THE election of new senators identified with President Rodrigo Duterte could result in the near-unanimous passage of a law re-imposing death penalty on heinous crimes, notably illegal drug dealing. Many bills to that effect had repeatedly been filed but to no avail.

The incoming senators and congressman would probably herald their “unity behind the President” as key to passage of a death-penalty law that would solve the drug problem.

I beg to disagree. If that were true, then the thousands of fallen victims of “extra-judicial killings” could have been more than sufficient to scare drug lords, pushers and users away.

The universal truth is that big drug lords are so “well connected and protected” that they evade the fate of their underlings who knowingly risk life and limb to make both ends meet.

If you have seen Narcos and El Chapo – two Netflix serials dramatizing the stories of drug lords Pablo Escobar of Colombia and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán of Mexico – you know that big money was everything that “bought” the silence of the police, prosecutors, judges and politicians.

In El Chapo, two scenes mention the Philippines as one of Guzman’s dumping grounds for heroin.

Guzman, extradited to the United States in 2017 and now languishing for life in a New York City jail, is believed to be still running his worldwide business through his sons and long-time associate Ismael Zambada García, according to New York Times (Feb. 13, 2019 issue).

Now here comes our Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto vowing to “resurrect” his failed bill pushing for the revival of death penalty by lethal injection.

He sounds as if he has forgotten that he once opposed the passage of what was then the Reproductive Health Bill because, being a Roman Catholic, he was “pro-life.”

If death penalty were not abolished during the Gloria Arroyo presidency, Sotto’s friend Erap (yes, the ex-President and now outgoing mayor of Manila) might have said “goodbye world” in the wake of his plunder conviction.

Remember when, in 1997 during the time of President Fidel Ramos, Sotto himself was on the front page for “protecting” a suspected drug lord, Alfredo Tiongco, who was alleged to have financed the senator’s 1992 campaign? He denied the charge but admitted being a friend of Tiongco.

At that time, death was the maximum penalty. But not surprisingly, the case against the wealthy Tiongco never reached the court of law.

Before the Tiongco fiasco, Sotto was being floated as a possible presidential candidate in 1998. The drug scandal scuttled his plan.

Now he would like us to believe that the prevailing life imprisonment as maximum penalty is a non-deterrent against heinous crimes; hence, the need for the government to revive the death penalty.

This writer begs to disagree. It would harm the poor but benefit the rich accused. It would also corrupt the police, prosecutors and judges who would jack up the amount of bribe money they would demand from the accused criminals under the table in exchange for their freedom.

Money always talks. As a child in the 1950s, I remember the story of Moises Padilla, a mayoral candidate in the town of Magallon, Negros Occidental who, in 1951, was tortured and murdered by the private army of the provincial governor after he had refused to withdraw his candidacy.

Governor Rafael Lacson was meted death sentence for Padilla’s murder but never served that sentence due to political intervention.

Padilla’s only consolation is the renaming of Magallon town into Moises Padilla. ([email protected]/PN)

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