Dela Rosa renews call for death penalty in PH amid talks of Sanchez release

Robie de Guzman   •   August 22, 2019   •   835

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Thursday renewed his call for the reimposition of death penalty in the country amid talks on the possible release of convicted rapist and murderer, former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Dela Rosa said the impending release of Sanchez and other inmates convicted of heinous crimes should not have been an issue now if the capital punishment was not abolished.

“Kung sa akin lang kung ganyan ka-heinous ang krimen na ginawa niya (Sanchez) dapat binitay na siya noon di ba, kung may death penalty na noon nabitay na yan… pero wala tayong magawa,” he said in a statement.

Sanchez was sentenced in 1995 to seven terms of reclusion perpetua (or 40 years of imprisonment) over the rape and murder of students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.

At the time of Sanchez’s conviction, the capital punishment was still in place.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier said Sanchez is among the more than 11,000 other inmates who might soon be freed due to a 2013 law that increased good conduct and time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates and a Supreme court ruling last June applying this law retroactively.

Dela Rosa said the pending release of inmates, especially those who were convicted of heinous crimes, could be averted if the capital punishment is reimposed.

He further noted that existing laws should be observed.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m just on the side of the law. Andiyan yang batas (Republic Act 10592) na ‘yan, dapat respetuhin natin, sundin natin,” he added.

But Sanchez’s eligibility under the new GCTA rule has been questioned by lawmakers and other sectors due to allegations of possession of illegal drugs after a prison guard found a packet of shabu and marijuana in his jail cell. An air condition unit and a television set were also seized from his cell, which are violation of prison rules.

When asked on the validity of releasing Sanchez, Dela Rosa said the DOJ through the Board of Pardons and Parole should explain to the public with regard to the GCTA.

“Well tanungin natin yung Board of Pardons and Parole na nagre-recommend niyan at yung sa loob ng Bureau of Corrections kung paano nila na compute, ang alam ko meron yang computation, may corresponding GCTA yan kung ilan days ang mababawas sa sintensya mo,” he said.

READ: BuCor says convicted ex-Mayor Sanchez may not be eligible for release under new GCTA rule

The Bureau of Corrections earlier said that contrary to earlier reports, Sanchez may not qualify for early release from prison due to several alleged violations of prison rules.

“As far as the Bureau is concerned, dahil nahulihan talaga sa kubol niya nuong 2006, as far as we are concerned, legal ang pagkakahuli sa kaniya… that means definitely disqualified him sa good conduct time allowance,” BuCor director general Nicanor Faeldon said.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III questioned whether Sanchez’s case is the best argument for the revival of death penalty.

“7 life sentences, no indemnification, hearings for parole did not inform Sarmenta family. Best argument for death penalty?” Sotto asked in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

Several lawmakers have expressed support for the return of the capital punishment, including Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Pia Cayateno, Bong Go, Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, but only for high level drug trafficking.

While other senators, including Risa Hontiveros, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Ralph Recto and Joel Villanueva expressed opposition to the proposal.

The Philippines abolished the death penalty under the 1987 Constitution. President Fidel Ramos reimposed the capital punishment in 1993 as a crime control measure but President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reinstated its abolition in 2006.

Senate OKs bill lowering height requirement for cops, other uniformed personnel

Robie de Guzman   •   September 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A Senate bill seeking to lower the minimum height requirement for aspiring law enforcers has been approved on third and final reading.

Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1563 or the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Height Equality Act was approved with 23 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and zero abstention.

The proposed PNP, BFP, BJMP, and BuCor Height Equality law seeks to amend the minimum height requirement for male applicants to five feet and two inches from the current 5’3; and five feet tall from the current 5’2 requirement for females.

The measure also proposes to waive the height requirements for applicants belonging to the cultural communities or the indigenous people.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and sponsor of the measure, said the approval of the bill would allow the PNP, BFP, BJMP and BuCor to accept applicants who have not been gifted with towering height.

“I still believe that sacrifice, dedication and service to the country cannot be measured by height nor by any physical characteristics given by the unseen hand of our Supreme Being,” Dela Rosa said in his explanatory note.

The Senator explained that given the required mandate of uniformed personnel, and for practicality in accomplishing tasks, there is still the need to retain a minimum height requirement for them to be able perform their duties and responsibilities exceptionally.

During his manifestation after the approval, Dela Rosa cited the late President Ramon Magsaysay’s credo: “He who has less in life should have more in law.”

Dela Rosa thanked his colleagues for supporting the measure.

The bill is in substitution of SBN 312 introduced by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson; SBN 405 filed by Sen. Francis Tolentino; and SBN 871 authored by Dela Rosa.

A counterpart bill in the House of Representatives remains pending.

Bato, Pacquiao support reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 30, 2020

Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Manny Pacquiao reiterated their support for the reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes.

During Senate’s regular session on Wednesday (July 29), Pacquiao said reinstating death penalty in the country will not be illegal in the eyes of God.

The Senator previously filed a bill that would impose death penalty on heinous crimes which include manufacturing and trafficking dangerous drugs.

Hindi po labag sa mata ng gobyerno, sa mata ng Panginoon. Dahil biblically po, allowed po ang gobyerno (It is not illegal in the eyes of the government, in the eyes of the Lord. Because, biblically, the government is allowed to do so) the authority, which is established by God to impose heinous crimes especially death penalty,” Pacquiao said.

Meanwhile, during his privilege speech, Dela Rosa reiterated that reimposing death penalty would be the solution in stopping drug lords and the continuing drug activities inside detention facilities.

The Senator also noted that crime rate has dropped when death penalty was imposed in 1993. He also said that the drug problem is also considered as a global pandemic which should also be prioritized.

“It is also considered a global pandemic itong drug problem. So, hindi naman siguro ibig sabihin na porke tayo may kinakaharap na global pandemic na COVID-19, hihinto na lang tayo sa paggawa ng ibang batas para sa ibang mga issues na kinakaharap ng ating lipunan (This drug problem is also considered as a global pandemic. Just because we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean we would stop making laws for other issues faced by society),” he said.

Dela Rosa was appointed as a member of a Senate panel under the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights after Senator Sherwin Gatchalian relinquished his seat.

The said Senate panel will vote on bills including the reimposition of death penalty in the country. However, panel chairman Senator Richard Gordon said the bill should be discussed at the proper time.

“I will not sponsor it because I do not believe in it. We will take it up at the proper time,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Dela Rosa on Espenido being in drug watchlist: “I am vouching for his integrity.”

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ronald dela Rosa wants to know the person who included the name of P/Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido in the government’s drug watchlist or list of cops linked to illegal drug trade.

Senator dela Rosa said it surprised him to hear that Espenido’s name was on the list when it wasn’t the case when he was still the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Hindi ko nakita noong panahon ko, otherwise, hindi ko iyan i-a-appoint (I didn’t see (his name) during my time, otherwise, I wouldn’t have appointed him),” the Senator said.

Dela Rosa transferred Espenido from Albuera, Leyte to Ozamiz City.

Espenido spearheaded the raids that resulted in the killing of then Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and the downfall of the Parojinog drug chain.

Given Espenido’s service history, dela Rosa expressed doubt as to how his name ended up in the President’s drug watchlist.

“Saan galing yan? Lumabas lang out of thin air? (Where did it come from? Did it appear out of thin air?),” the former PNP Chief said.

He urged that the PNP leadership should investigate how it happened, adding that there might be a ‘syndicate’ inside the PNP who wanted to dishonor their comrades.

“Dapat ungkatin ng PNP kung sino ang gumawa ng report na iyan, most likely sindikato na pulis ang gumawa noon (The PNP should investigate who made that report. It’s most likely a syndicate of cops who did that),” dela Rosa noted.

“Dahil kung andyan pa iyang mga pulis na iyan most likely meron na naman iyang gagawing kalokohan sa ibang kasamahan nila na makakalaban nila (Because if those cops are still in position, most likely they will repeat their follies against other cops who oppose them),” the Senator added.

Senator dela Rosa clarified that Espenido still has his full trust and similar to President Duterte, he doesn’t believe Espenido is involved in illegal drugs trade.

“He is my man I am vouching for his integrity,” dela Rosa said of Espenido.

“Kilala ko siya na matino siya (I have known him as a straight cop),” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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