Pubdate: Wed, 29 Oct 2008
Source: Manila Bulletin (The Philippines)
Author: Yul Malicse


Former senator Vicente "Tito'' C. Sotto III, now chairman of the
Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), said  yesterday he will work for the
re-imposition of ''death  penalty'' for those convicted for illegal
drugs  trafficking and capital offenses, including heinous crimes.

Centering on drug traffickers, Sotto said "this is one serious
problem that the government must give priority to -- as too many
families have been gravely affected,  in fact, destroyed because of
this social menace, which is worldwide.''

Sotto, the principal author of Republic Act No. 7659 enacted in 1993
which reimposed death penalty on capital offenses, said, "the drug
problem in the  Philippines has become too big -- in fact, its turf 
which used to be in the circle of the rich, the  affluent and
powerful, is now felt in the barangay  level.''

In 2006, RA 7659 was repealed as Congress made ''life imprisonment''
as the maximum punishment for criminal offenses, including
drug-related cases.

Sotto said that he will make proper representation with Congress for
the return of death sentence, stressing he was initiating talks with
Sen. Gregorio Honasan, chairman of the Senate committee on drugs and
public order.

In the Philippines, sources said that there are around  5,000
''regular'' and ''casual'' illegal drug users.

Methamphetamine hydrochloride or ''shabu'' leads the list of the
major prohibited drugs, under the official  list of DDB. Shabu is
followed by marijuana.

Sotto said: "The big fish are virtually scot free, the small are the
only ones jailed, and, at times, sentenced, under the Republic Act
No. 9165 -- the  Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs of 2002.''

Sotto is also a principal author of RA 9165, together with the late
Sen. Robert Z. Barbers and other lawmakers.

On the return of death penalty for drug traffickers, Sotto welcomed
the suggestions of heads of other government agencies and the private
sector that "this  must be reimposed for drug traffickers, their
brains and protectors.''

Heads of agencies and groups who support the reimposition of death
penalty for drug traffickers  include Senior Undersecretary Dionisio
R. Santiago,  director general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement 
Agency (PDEA) and Chairman Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against
Crime and Corruption.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin