PDEA chief favors lethal injection only for 'big-time drug traffickers'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 28) — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte's recent push for the revival of death penalty by lethal injection, but said it should zero in on big-time drug traffickers.

PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva on Tuesday said Duterte's renewed call for the return of capital punishment will scare away high-profile drug peddlers. But he said death penalty should be limited to those arrested with high quantities of illegal drugs.

"Execution by lethal injection is for big-time drug traffickers, and not for the street-level pushers," Villanueva said in a statement. "I strongly suggest that seized drugs weighing one kilogram or more should be the threshold amount."

The Duterte administration's war on illegal drugs has been criticized by human rights advocates for being anti-poor, with majority of deaths coming from impoverished families.

The PDEA chief added that drug protectors and coddlers who were found guilty of manufacturing, trafficking, and pushing prohibited drugs should also be covered by the law.

In his second to the last State of the Nation Address on Monday, Duterte pushed for the reimposition of capital punishment, specifying the method of lethal injection, for heinous crimes related to illegal drugs.

The President, who has waged a violent drug war since he came into office in 2016, said executions will help lower crime rates in the country.

Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, who was the captain of Duterte's drug war for almost two years, backed violent punishment for drug traffickers.

"Dapat talagang bitayin ‘yang mga drug lord na ‘yan... Kaya tayo binabaha ng droga dito sa Pilipinas," dela Rosa said. "Walang takot itong mga drug lord maghakot ng droga dito sa ating bansa dahil wala tayong death penalty."

[Translation: Drug lords should be killed by hanging. We are flooded with illegal drugs because drug lords are confident because the Philippines doesn't have death penalty.]