Vice-presidential candidate and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. issued a statement yesterday expressing his support for calls for the reimposition of the death penalty.
“These drug lords should be given the death penalty because it is clear that they are destroying the future, our youth. They are destroying their lives, the future of our country,” Mr. Marcos said in his statement.
Mr. Marcos, however, qualified this stand as being only applicable to drug lords, and maintained he is essentially opposed to capital punishment.
It will be recalled that the death penalty was meted out early in the martial-law regime of Mr. Marcos’s father, the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos, with the 1973 execution by musketry of convicted drug dealer Lim Seng. But before the political transition of martial law, there were executions by electrocution before martial law.
The one notable execution in the post-Marcos era was the 1999 death by lethal injection of convicted rapist Leo Echegaray on the watch of President Joseph E. Estrada. According to the blogsite of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, “In 1999, the bumper year for executions, the national crime volume, instead of abating, ironically increased by 15.3 percent or a total of 82,538 (from 71,527 crimes in the previous year).”
The death penalty has been an intermittent public concern throughout the post-Marcos era -- this mode of punishment finding itself thrown in and out of the parameters of law, amid opposition by human-rights advocacy and by the Catholic Church.
According to a timeline by the PCIJ blog, the death penalty was “abolished” in the 1987 Constitution but was restored by the Ramos administration in the wake of high profile crimes at the time. Although Mr. Estrada issued a moratorium on the death penalty soon after the Echegaray execution, his successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lifted the moratorium in 2003, only to issue reprieves thereafter.
Mr. Marcos is the second candidate in the national arena to openly favor the death penalty, after PDP-Laban standard-bearer and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, who said last December he would restore capital punishment by public hanging if elected president.
Mr. Marcos said the drug problem is not a purely law enforcement concern but an issue of “values formation” in the family.
“The problem is these drugs lords could easily use their money to bribe almost everyone and this is what we should change. We should all be involved, from the police operation to the cases filed in court. Let’s involve our parents, our teachers, our church leaders, every member of society and let’s go back to values formation,” he said.
On another crime concern, the camp of Vice-President and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer Jejomar C. Binay in a statement said he met with five human trafficking victims and their families at the Coconut Palace Monday.
Mr. Binay said he will continue to go after human traffickers and illegal recruiters as well as continue the programs he initiated as chairman of the Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking.
The Vice-President called for vigilance in the recruitment process as it involves the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency.
“Huwag ho kayong basta magtitiwala. Ang pinakamagandang gawin po ninyo, pumunta po kayo sa POEA at siguruhin na makatotohan ang kausap ninyo,” he said. (Be careful with the trust you place. The best thing to do is go to the POEA and see to it that the people you talk to are honest.)
The statement also noted Mr. Binay’s coordination with the Malaysian government and the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur to help rescue victims of human trafficking.
REACHING OUT TO SENIORS
Meanwhile, presidential candidate and Senator Grace Poe was in Pampanga recently for an audience with various sectors, including senior citizens.
Ms. Poe, who was formally adopted on Monday by the Nationalist People’s Coalition, is not the only candidate reaching out to this demographic. Mr. Binay has also called himself “candidate of senior citizens,” citing his programs in their behalf as longtime Makati mayor.
Seniros constitute 6.7 million or 12.32% out of 54.4 million registered voters. Although a relative minority compared with the millennial vote, observers have pointed out the extended families of seniors who also include the millennials.
Ms. Poe, in reaching out to seniors, cited her familiarity with their issues, saying, “ang nanay ko ay senior citizen din [my own mother is also a senior citizen],” referring to her mother, actress Jesusa “Susan Roces” P. Sonora.
“Doon naman sa mga senior citizen na walang pera, kailangan maisama rin sa 4Ps para matulungan din kayo,” Ms. Poe said. (With regards to senior citizens who don’t have money, they need to be part of the 4Ps [social welfare program of the current administration] so that you can also be assisted.)
She also said senior citizens who are healthy enough and still want to work should be given employment opportunities.
“Bigyan ng trabaho sa gobyerno, at bigyan ng trabaho sa pribadong sektor para paggising ninyo sa umaga, mayroon kayong gustong gawin. Importante iyan sa lahat.” (They should be given jobs in government and in the private sector, so that when you wake up in the morning, you have something you want to do. That’s most important.)
Amid opposition and uncertainty from political allies regarding the issue of lowering personal income taxes, reelectionist senatorial candidate Franklin M. Drilon said reforming the decade-old Philippine tax system will be one of his priorities in the next Congress.
The vice-chairman of the ruling Liberal Party, Mr. Drilon currently ranks at fifth place according to the latest Social Weather Stations survey last month.
“One of the things I will focus on in the 17th Congress will be on our income tax structure. You know, it’s way back 1995 that there was a basis for our income tax system wherein someone who is earning P500,000 annual taxable income is taxed at 32 percent,” Mr. Drilon said in an interview with dzRH on Tuesday.
“But the worth of P500,000 is different today, so it should be reviewed and corrected for the sake of our citizens who take home pay continue to dwindle,” he added.
Mr. Drilon and other legislators, notably administration allies Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara and Marikina Rep. Romero Federico S. Quimbo, had pushed for tax reform but this was opposed by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, citing potential revenue loss.
The Liberal Party’s standard-bearer, Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II, has qualified his position on this matter, adding that he discourages its discussion amid this politically charged season.