Incoming Senator de la Rosa wants drug traffickers to be executed by firing squad

Senator-elect Ronald dela Rosa during the campaign. Photo: George Calvelo/ABS-CBN News
Senator-elect Ronald dela Rosa during the campaign. Photo: George Calvelo/ABS-CBN News

Senator-elect Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa may no longer be the Philippines’ police chief but he still wants to be part of the government’s bloody anti-drug campaign. In fact, he made a controversial proposal today: those found guilty of drug trafficking should be publicly executed by a firing squad.

De la Rosa said this during a press conference in Quezon City’s Camp Crame, the national headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP), which he used to lead.

Speaking to GMA News and other media, he said in English and Filipino: “It should be a public [execution] so that the public will be scared and won’t do the same thing. [The execution should be done] through firing squad at the town plaza, live [telecast], covered by the media.”

He said he plans to file a bill in the Senate to make this law. However, de la Rosa said that small-time drug peddlers and drug users will not be executed, The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“They’re not included. My version of the death penalty will only be for drug trafficking. This is just for drug traffickers who are flooding our country with shabu (methamphetamine),” he said.

In 2006, then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a law that prohibits the imposition of the death penalty in the country. Before this, executions were carried out through firing squad, electrocution, or lethal injection. The last man executed in the Philippines was Alex Bartolome, who was given a lethal injection in 2000 during President Joseph Estrada’s term.

The last time drug traffickers were punished through death by firing squad was during the rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. One of the more high profile cases during this time was that of convicted Chinese drug lord Lim Seng, whose execution by firing squad was broadcast on television in 1973.

De la Rosa also used his press conference today to criticize the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who said on Monday that there have been “extraordinarily high number of deaths” and “persistent reports of extrajudicial killings” in President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial anti-drug campaign.

“Let them be. You should do something about your own country, not other people’s country. Are you sure that there’s nothing wrong going on in your own country? Why are they criticizing the Philippines?” de la Rosa said, according to Sun Star Manila. 

As Duterte’s first police chief, de la Rosa was responsible for launching the president’s bloody drug war in 2016. The PNP announced this month that 6,600 drug suspects have been killed from June 2016 to May 2019. However, the Commission on Human Rights said in December that the number could be as high as 27,000.

The PNP insists that many of those killed fought back the authorities, a claim that has been proven to be false several times. A number of Filipinos believe that drug suspects have been summarily executed during police operations.

At present, the International Criminal Court is conducting a preliminary investigation into the government’s drug war despite the Philippines’ decision to leave the organization in March.

De la Rosa placed fifth out of the 12 new Philippine senators during the midterm elections in May. He took his oath as a senator before Duterte yesterday.

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