By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA (PNA) – Excited for his first privilege speech as neophyte senator, Manny Pacquiao made his presence felt in front of the heavyweights of the Philippine Senate to push his Senate Bill No. 185 which seeks the re-imposition of death penalty for heinous crimes and drug traffickers.
”My first ever privilege speech as a Senator will focus on one of the biggest issues plaguing our country. I speak before you because of the sense of urgency on the issue of drug problem which has become alarming as it gets worse each day,” Pacquiao said in his six-page speech.
Armed with verses from the Bible, the born again Christian senator claimed God allows capital punishment against criminals.
Pacquiao quoted Genesis 9:6 which says “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God, has God made mankind.”
He also quoted another verse from the Bible’s Old Testament in Exodus 21:12 which states: “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.”
The former eight-time world boxing defending champion gladly yielded to the request of fellow senators to be questioned about his proposal to revive death penalty.
Senate Majority Vicente Sotto, who also filed separate bill reviving death penalty against drug trafficking, thanked Pacquiao for quoting a Bible verse from New Testament which, Pacquiao said, recognizes the legitimacy of capital punishment.
Pacquiao was referring to Romans 13:4 which says: “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on to the wrongdoer.”
”Natutuwa po ako na nabanggit nyo ang Bible dahil noong una nahirapan ako nang interpellate ako ng mga antigong senador, ang sabi sa akin nasa Old Testament yun mga sinasabi ko. Hindi ko nagpaaralan na sa New Testament ay meron pala at kayo ang nagbanggit nito. Dapat pala naging consultant kita noong araw when I sponsored it in 9th Congress,” Sotto said.
Sotto also asked Pacquiao if the world’s popular boxer is in favor of the cruel form of death penalty such as hanging or firing squad.
Pacquiao initially refused to answer but eventually gave in to Sotto’s persistence.
”Wala po ba kayong personal na pananaw. Alin ang mas pabor kayo, hanging, firing squad, electric chair or lethal injection?,” Sotto asked.
”Para sa akin po sa ngayon ay nanaig yung hanging or firing squad,” Pacquiao answered.
”Dahil mura or dahil makakasilbi ng maganda,” Sotto inquired again.
”Sisipain lang po ang upuan,” Pacquiao replied, an answer that left many senators and the people from gallery laughing.
Pacquiao was also interpellated by fellow new Senators Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima who is a former Justice secretary.
Veteran Senators Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan and Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan II also raised some questions on Pacquiao’s proposal.
Pacquiao explained that the alarming report of 11,309 out of the 42,029 barangays are considered drug-affected has prompted him to push the reimposition of death penalty.
”Walang ngipin ang ating batas. Masyadong maluwag ang ating batas para sa mga drug traffickers,” he said.
Pacquiao said the countries with death penalty have lower records of illegal drugs.