SENATE – His fervent desire to learn and gain more knowledge was evident when Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao took the podium to deliver his first ever privilege speech at the Senate on Monday.
“Minsan, talo ng matapang ang madunong,” one spectator at the gallery was overheard as saying.
When asked why he said so, the guy replied “Eh baguhang mambabatas si Senador Pacquiao. Nakakabilib ang lakas ng kanyang loob. Biruin mo, pumayag siyang ma-interpellate ng mga magagaling na kasamahan.”
Senator Pacquiao said he is aware of his limitation as a neophyte lawmaker.
“My intention is not to argue with my fellow senators. I am aware they are intellectual giants. I just wanted to interact with them. By so doing, I can gain new knowledge and ideas. I’m still young and I want to learn from them, as well as, from my own mistakes. This is the kind of attitude that made me the world’s eight-division boxing champion,” Senator Pacquiao revealed.
Senator Pacquiao expressed his appreciation to the senators who stood up to interpellate him.
“They are well-versed on legal matters. Marami pa tayong dapat malaman at pag-aralan lalung-lalo na sa larangan ng batas. I really appreciate Senators Tito Sotto, Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros for their kind indulgence and broad-mindedness. Deep in my heart I am thankful to them,” Senator Pacquiao said.
According to Senator Pacquiao, he was touched by the compassion and humility of veteran lawmakers and legal luminaries like Senators Franklin Drilon, Dick Gordon, Sonny Angara, Chiz Escudero and Peter Allan Cayetano.
“Mahihirapan akong sagutin yong posibleng mga tanong nila kaya hindi na sila nag-abalang tumayo at magtanong. Lalong lumaki ang paghanga at respeto ko sa kanila,” Senator Pacquiao said.
The senator from Mindanao felt he had not satisfactorily answered the questions raised by Senators Kiko Pangilinan and Leila Delima, who are among the staunch critics of death penalty in the Senate.
“I’m still on the process of learning and I believe nauunawaan at niri-respeto naman nila ang paninindigan ko hinggil sa isyu,” the senator said.
Senator Pacquiao’s privilege speech called for the reimposition of death penalty particularly on drug-related heinous crimes.
He said in his speech that death penalty has both constitutional and biblical bases.
In fact, he said, the death penalty was never jettisoned under our Constitution.
The death penalty law was passed during the Ramos regime but the succeeding Estrada and Arroyo administrations imposed a moratorium owing to a strong lobby exerted by the Roman Catholic church and human rights advocates.
On the issue of whether death penalty is a deterrent to crime or an inhuman and degrading punishment, the Supreme Court had extensively explained in its February 7,1997 decision on People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472.
The decision stated “…the death penalty is imposed in heinous crimes because the perpetrators thereof have committed unforgivably execrable acts that have so deeply dehumanized a person or criminal acts with severely destructive effects on the national efforts to lift the masses from abject poverty through organized governmental strategies based on a disciplined and honest citizenry, and because they have so caused irreparable and substantial injury to both their victim and the society and a repetition of their acts would pose actual threat to the safety of individuals and the survival of government, they must be permanently prevented from doing so.”
The lawmaker from Sarangani quoted Genesis Chapter 9 verse 6, which said “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God, has God made mankind” to stress that death penalty is allowed God, Himself.
He claimed that the New Testament even recognizes the legitimacy of capital punishment in Romans Chapter 13 Verse 4: “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.”
But, while Sen. Pacquiao recognizes the need to put more teeth in the law penalizing drug related activities, he calls on the citizenry to remain vigilant and the law enforcement agencies not to disregard the right of the suspects to a fair trial.
He reminded his colleagues that as lawmakers they have the moral obligation not only to pass meaningful laws but, above all, to ensure the safety and security of the citizenry.
By Aquiles Z. Zonio