PNP Chief wants death penalty for 50 grams of illegal drugs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29) — For Philippine National Police Chief Archie Gamboa, a person caught with 50 grams of illegal drugs should face the death penalty.

He voiced support for President Rodrigo Duterte's call on Congress to pass bills reimposing capital punishment for drug-related crimes, saying such legislation will scare away drug offenders.

"Ang leverage ko ngayon sa PNP when I say high-value target, it should be 50 grams and up. Ang mga users naman sachet-sachet lang 'yan," the chief implementer of the administration's war on drugs said.

[Translation: To be considered a high-value target, you should be caught with at least 50 grams of illegal drugs. Drug users usually only buy drugs by the sachet.]

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

The PNP Chief's suggestion is in stark contrast to the proposal of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Wilkins Villanueva to limit this punishment those arrested with at least one kilogram of narcotics.

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

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III thumbed down Gamboa's suggestion.

"The present law says 200 grams non bailable, paanong naging 50 grams lang death penalty? If they insist, then forget the bill," he tweeted.

Gamboa said he leaves it up to the Congress to finalize the details.

"We are requesting that this imposition of the death penalty should be enacted into law because the PNP believes that with this kind of imposition there would be a deterrence on crime," he said.

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 drug war that has left thousands of suspects dead since he came into office in 2016, said executions will help lower crime rates in the country.

Meanwhile, Senator Bato Dela Rosa, an advocate for the reimposition of the capital punishment, said that the country’s drug problem could have been solved long time ago had imprisoned drug lords been put into death row.

“Kahit nasa loob na sila ng bilibid, patuloy pa rin ang kanilang negosyo sa droga, dahil buhay pa sila,” he said during the Senate’s plenary session.

[Translation: Even though they are already imprisoned, their drug deals continue because they are still alive.]

“So kung iyang mga drug lord na 'yan sa loob ng bilibid, kung 'yan ay pinagbibitay natin noon pa, matagal na sanang nawala ang problema natin sa droga,” added Dela Rosa.

[Translation: So if those drug lords inside the prison were already put into death row before, we could have been already free from the drug problem for a very long time.]

Aside from Dela Rosa, Senators Imee Marcos, Bong Revilla, and Manny Pacquiao filed bills reviving death penalty.

The country had abolished the death penalty under the 1987 Constitution. But then President Fidel Ramos reimposed it in 1993 to help in controlling crime. Thirteen years later, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo abolished it again in 2006.