Bato wants firing squad for drug lords, but Alejano, Diokno say violence not the answer

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 2) — Former Philippine National Police Chief General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa is firm on his plan to author a bill to reimpose the death penalty against drug traffickers if he's elected senator in the 2019 polls. But two other senatorial aspirants believe his proposal is not the solution to the continuing problem of illegal drugs in the country.

During CNN Philippines' #TheFilipinoVotes: Senatorial Forum on Sunday, Dela Rosa said the restoration of the death penalty is necessary to save Filipinos from the malaise of illegal drugs.

"When you come at the crossroads of choosing whose life you're going to save, itong buhay ba ng thousands of Filipino na kabataan o itong buhay ng Chinese drug lord na sumisira sa buhay ng libong kabataan? Ako talaga ise-save ko ang buhay ng kabataan," he said.

His answer was heckled by the audience composed of students and other candidates’ supporters, chanting "Karapatan ipaglaban."

His proposed form of punishing convicted drug lords is to execute them by a firing squad in Luneta.

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During Dela Rosa's time as the country's top police and the lead implementer of President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial drug war, over 4,000 drug suspects were killed during legitimate police operations. However, human rights watchdogs peg the number at over 13,000, including those who died in vigilante-style killings — possibly involving police officers. On November 30, Duterte's drug war marked its first conviction after three Caloocan cops were found guilty of killing 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was murdered in an anti-drug operation during dela Rosa’s term.

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno opposes Dela Rosa's proposal, saying the drug problem has to be solved at its root.

Alejano, a former soldier, said the Duterte administration’s response on the growing drug problem is prone to abuse.

“Hindi ako pabor sa kasulukuyang pamamaraan kung paano ini-implement ang war on drugs. Kung nilulutas natin ang isang gulo at gulo rin ang sagot, tulad ng patayan, ang resulta ay gulo rin,” Alejano said.

Diokno added, “Ang problema sa war on drugs, mas malala pa 'yung gamot kaysa sa sakit. 'Di ba? Wala namang shortcut ang hustisya. Wala namang shortcut sa paglalaban natin ng krimen at korapsyon.”

Both Alejano and Diokno proposed solutions that do not resort to violence.

Alejano, a staunch critic of Duterte, said the administration must alleviate poverty, adding the President should put his focus on fixing the criminal justice in the country.

Diokno, the current dean of the De La Salle University's College of Law, said the government must shift to removing politics in the selection of judges and prosecutors handling drug cases. He said he personally experienced the rampant politicking in the judiciary when he performed as a counsel. 

“Hanggang ngayon po e ganon pa rin. Kailangan mawala ang pulitika sa pagpipili ng ating mga huwes at prosecutor para po matino at maganda ang ating katarungan,” he said.

The son of late human rights champion Jose Pepe Diokno added, “Bakit ko sinasabi na baluktot ang sistema ng ating hustisya? Unang-una napakabagal ng paglilitis ng mga kaso sa atin. Usad-pagong ang kaso sa atin. Bakit napakabagal ng paglilitis ng kaso sa atin? Kulang na kulang tayo ng huwes. Kulang na kulang tayo ng prosecutor. Walang ibang dahilan kundi 'yan.”

Dela Rosa, Alejano, and Diokno are among the 152 aspirants hoping to win one of the 12 spots in the senatorial race in the May 2019 elections.

Watch CNN Philippines' The Filipino Votes: Senatorial forum: