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IN his first privilege speech as a senator, Manny Pacquiao pushed for the reinstatement of the death penalty for heinous crimes, such as drug trafficking.
August 8, 2016 – Senate Session No. 6
“Ang lahat po ay may karapatang mabuhay. Pero bilang mambabatas, may obligasyon rin po tayo sa ating mga mamamayan na mabigyan sila ng tahimik at maayos na pamumuhay. Wala tayong dapat ikatakot sa death penalty, dahil ito ay para lamang sa mga taong walang habas gumawa ng karumal-dumal na krimen. Sa death penalty for drug traffickers, kakampi po natin dito sino mang Juan dela Cruz at lahat ng Pilipino na sumusunod sa batas at gumagalang sa karapatan ng kanyang kapwa.”
(Watch from 1:22:14 – 1:23:00)
Narrating provisions and evolution of death penalty on Philippine laws, and his Christian faith, Pacquiao said that death penalty was never abolished in the Philippine constitution and in the eyes of God. He added:
“Death penalty is lawful, moral and sanction governmental action. Having read the bible on a regular basis, I am convinced that God is not just a God of mercy. He is also a God of justice. So on the issue of death penalty I could not help but consult the Bible…”
(Watch from 1:14:20 – 1:14:45)
FLIP-FLOP: But one year ago, Pacquiao, then-Sarangani congressman, prayed over Filipina overseas worker Mary Jane Veloso to be spared from execution in Indonesia.
Veloso was caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage at an airport in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where her recruiter sent her for work. She was convicted and sentenced with death penalty in October 2010 despite claims that she has no prior knowledge of the drug, and with appeals consistently rejected by courts.
Pacquiao appealed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo on national television, which was also reported by several international media.
April 26, 2015 – GMA’s Balitanghali Live Interview
“His Excellency, President Joko Widodo, I, Manny Pacquiao. On behalf of my countryman, Mary Jane Veloso, and the entire Filipino people, I am begging and knocking at your kind heart that Your Excellency will grant executive clemency to her by sparing her life and saving her from execution.
“Mr President, on May 2nd, I’ll be fighting in Las Vegas, Nevada against Floyd Mayweather which is considered the fight of the century. It will be a great morale booster if in my own little way I can save a life. I am dedicating this fight to my country and the entire Asian people, to which the Philippines and Indonesia belong. Thank you, Mr President.”
(Watch from 0:35 – 1:22)
Veloso was temporarily given reprieve at the last minute on April 29, 2015 after her alleged recruiter turned herself to the police in the Philippines.
In 2004, two years before death penalty was abolished in the Philippines, a Supreme Court decision said 71.77 percent of the total death penalty cases were either “modified or vacated.”
In addition, only one-fourth, or 25.36 percent of the total number of death penalty cases were affirmed.
Back in December 2012, Pacquiao also delivered a speech in Congress after he voted no to the Republic Health Bill, saying one of his fights in the ring strengthened his pro-life conviction.
December 12, 2012 – ABS-CBN News
“Ang nangyari sa Las Vegas ay lalong nagpaigting sa aking paniniwala na ang buhay ay sagrado. Kung dapat o hindi na ang nilalang ay mabuhay sa mundo o hindi kailangan dapat ilagay sa kamay ng kanyang kapwa tao. Tanging ang Diyos ang may karapatan dito. Kaya, Manny Pacquiao is pro-life.”
(Watch from 2:35 – 3:05)
BACKGROUND: According to Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights, “Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.”
The Philippines’ 13th Congress in June 2006 also passed Republic Act 9346, An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines.
Aside from drug trafficking, Pacquiao also filed two separate bills calling for the reimposition of death penalty on aggravated rape and kidnapping or detention.
– Yvette Morales