Active, retired police generals support death penalty for drug lords

August 04, 2020

TOP officials of the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dangerous Drugs Board have aired anew their strong support for the re-imposition of death penalty for big-time drug traffickers and manufacturers  in the country.

“Personally, I am in favor of death penalty for drug trafficking,” said DDB chairman retired Police General Catalino S.  Cuy of Philippine Military Class 1981.

“Actually, drug lords and other personalities are saying the fact that we don’t have a death penalty in the country is an incentive to doing business here, call it ease of doing business plus the huge financial gains,” Cuy added.

PNP chief, Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, a lawyer-member of PMA Class 1986 has expressed the 209,000-storng police force’s full support to President Duterte’s call for the re-imposition of the death penalty on big-time drug lords and even suggested it should be applied on those convicted for trafficking of at least 50 grams of shabu which is worth P340,000 in the local drug market.

“The apprehension of traffickers with this amount of drugs takes “a lot of work and a lot of surveillance. You cannot just apprehend somebody tapos ma-confiscate mo na iyong 50 grams. Siguro maglalaro doon: 50 grams to 1 kilo. I think that’s enough na dapat i-impose ang death penalty,” the top cop said.

PDEA chair, Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva also expressed full support to President Duterte’s call for the revival of the death penalty in the country to deter illegal drug activities and even strongly suggested execution by lethal injection for drug lords only and not for street-level pushers.

“The absence of capital punishment is favorable for drug peddlers who continue their nefarious activities despite being in detention,” the official said.

The PDEA chief said the absence of death penalty in the country is being taken advantage of by moneyed and influential drug lords who continue to operate their illicit business even while serving time at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.

“We have intercepted drug transactions perpetrated by convicted high-profile inmates while inside the national penitentiaries. They have found ways to communicate with the outside world one way or the other, and give direct orders to people involved in the illegal drug trade,” Villanueva said.

However, the PDEA chair said the return of the death penalty should depend on certain quantities of confiscated narcotics. “Execution by lethal injection is for big-time drug traffickers, and not for the street-level pushers. I strongly suggest that seized drugs weighing one kilogram or more should be the threshold amount,” he said.

A member of PMA Class 1988, the PDEA head expressed belief that foreign and local drug offenders, including drug protectors and coddlers who were found guilty of manufacturing, trafficking, and pushing of dangerous drugs deserve the capital punishment.

“Tougher penalties will send a clear message and force them to have second thoughts before smuggling and trafficking illegal drugs. They have the luxury to operate in our country without worry because the maximum penalty on our laws is less harsh,” Villanueva said.

Gen. Gamboa said he was long in favor of the restoration of death penalty for convicted big-time drug offenders. “Of course, I’m in favor of death penalty since based on many suspects we have interviewed before, they’re doing this thing (big-time drug trafficking) because there’s no death penalty in the country,” Gamboa said.

The PNP chief added that President Rodrigo Duterte was airing the same position even when he was still the Davao City mayor. “We’re very thankful we have found allies in the Senate,” Gamboa said.

The PNP chief issued the statement as a Bulacan judge inspected the more than P5 billion worth of shabu seized by agents of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr.  in a buy-bust operation in Marilao municipality last June 4. Arrested during the operation were a big-time Chinese drug trafficker and his two Filipina partners.

Gen. Gamboa said he wants to destroy the huge volume of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ seized by his men since October 2019.

Since October last year, agents of the PNP-DEG, with the help of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and other Police Regional Offices specifically the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas, the Police Regional Office 3 under Brig. Gen. Rhodel O. Sermonia and the PRO4-A headed by Brig. Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr. have launched operations which led in the arrest of 186 ‘HVTs including 10 foreign nationals.

The PNP-DEG operations since November 2019 led in the arrest of five suspects led by two Chinese nationals and the killing of two armed suspects, one of them the son of the Chinese man arrested in Marilao, Bulacan last June 4.

The PNP chief said it’s a fact that ‘high-value targets’ are taking advantage of the lack of death penalty in the country to continue their big-time drug trafficking and smuggling activities.

“The re-imposition of the death penalty would definitely be a deterrent in our campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.

However, Gen. Gamboa, himself a lawyer agreed that it’s up for Congress to determine the degree of punishment that will be applied on drug traffickers.

"We believe this is a deterrent. This is a revelation coming from those who are apprehended and our counterparts from other countries. Sinasabi nila doon din sa kanilang mga lugar, ganoon din, hindi rin masyadong napipigilan 'yung droga dahil walang death penalty," the PNP chief said.

President Duterte, in his 5th State-of-the-Nation-Address on Monday last week reiterated his call for the swift passage of a law reinstating the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes under Republic Act 9165 otherwise known as The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The PNP leadership has long aired its support to the imposition of the death penalty on select cases involving illegal drugs and corruption saying that the certainty of punishment will be a “game changer” in the government’s campaign against the drug trade, corruption, and heinous crimes.

However, many officials have expressed belief that the death penalty can only be restored if the country’s justice system will be flawless, thus the need for Congress to carefully study the proposal to return the capital punishment which was abolished in 2006.