SONA 2019: Duterte asks Congress to restore death penalty for drugs, plunder

Stressing how government still has “a long way to go” in the fight against illegal drugs, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has renewed his request for Congress to reinstate death penalty for heinous crimes related to drugs and plunder during his 4th State of the Nation Address on July 22, 2019.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his 4th State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 22, 2019. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

“I respectfully request Congress to reinstate the death penalty for heinous crimes related to drugs, as well as plunder,” Duterte said in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday (July 22).

“I am aware that we still have a long way to go in our fight against this social menace. Let the reason why I advocate the imposition of the death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs,” he added.

Before renewing his call to revive death penalty, he discussed how the illegal drug problem was connected to the five-month Marawi siege from May 23 to October 27, 2017.

“Years ago, we saw the terrible devastation caused by illegal drugs. On May 23, 2017, our law enforcers launched an operation to serve a warrant and to neutralize terrorists. A group of armed men with sophisticated weaponry and aided by locals radicalized by extremist dogma and teachings fought our troops for weeks,” Duterte said.

“During that Marawi Siege, tons of shabu worth millions and millions of pesos. Drug money killed 175 and wounded [2,101] of my soldiers and policemen in that five-month battle,” he added.

Duterte said it pained him to see how his two campaign promises — curb illegal drugs and corruption — yet to be realized.

“It has been three years since I took my oath of office, and it pains me to say that we have not learned our lesson. The illegal drug problem persists. Corruption continues and emasculates the courage we need to sustain our moral recovery initiatives,” Duterte said.

He, meanwhile, acknowledged how Filipinos have done their part in the war on drugs through the barangay formation of anti-drug councils, and also “actually surrendering bricks of cocaine found floating in the sea into our islands.”

“I call this responsibility,” Duterte said.

Duterte, however, said that drugs would not be crushed unless corruption was eliminated.

He also renewed his call for Congress to raise excise taxes on both tobacco and liquor and pass the remaining packages of his administration’s tax reform program.

Duterte has pushed for the reinstatement of death penalty since the start of his 2016 presidential campaign and also mentioned it in his second SONA in 2017.

Two of his allies in Congress, Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Christopher “Bong” Go have both vowed to push for the revival of capital punishment.

In 2017, the House of Representatives approved a death penalty measure (House Bill 4727), which seeks to punish drug-related crimes with life imprisonment or death. (Azer Parrocha, PNA)

WATCH: Pres. Duterte delivers 4th SONA