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Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte wants 50 convicts executed every month by hanging once Congress re-imposes the death penalty, representative-elect Danilo Suarez of Quezon said yesterday. “He feels that if at least 50 drug lords and other convicts are hanged every month, their execution will deter crime,” he told the Usaping Balita forum at the Serye Café in Quezon City. He said Duterte revealed his plans during a meeting with 19 members of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday.

Duterte told them that he would like Congress to restore the death penalty within six months or before yearend.

He said Duterte intends to certify a capital punishment re-imposition bill as urgent.

Suarez recalled that in the course of Tuesday’s meeting, reelected Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., who is being groomed to chair the House appropriations committee, suggested that funds could be set aside for the rehabilitation of the death chamber at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa, where execution through lethal injection could be carried out.

But the president-elect rejected the proposal of Camarines Sur. Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. to allocate funds for the construction of lethal injection rooms to carry out his plan to revive the death penalty.

He said if Congress enacts a bill lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 15, youth convicted of heinous crimes such as drug trafficking would be covered by the planned re-imposition of the death penalty.

READ: DUTERTE: 'I would lead Congress to restore death penalty'

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, another guest at the forum, said Duterte would not see the execution of convicted drug lords and other offenders in the early part of his administration. “They have to go through the legal process. The offenders have to be convicted. Then there is the mandatory review of their conviction. Knowing our justice system, it will take time, maybe years,” he said. He said the death penalty, if Congress restores it, would be applied on future offenders, not on convicts serving time at Bilibid.

Suarez agreed with Ridon, but said if suspected drug lords choose to fight law enforcers, they would suffer death just the same. “In our province, if there is a drug lord in a community and he is arrested, he is freed and is back to his illegal activities in a few days because he has bribed the judge and the prosecutor. This does not happen in Davao City (where Duterte is mayor),” Suarez said. He said the incoming leader asked him, Belmonte and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, who is being eyed as the next majority leader, to help incoming speaker Pantaleon Alvarez push for the return of capital punishment and other legislative priorities.

They said they promised to support Duterte’s priority legislative measures.

Ridon, who belongs to the Makabayan bloc, said their group would oppose the re-imposition of the death penalty. “I predict a showdown on this issue inside and outside Congress, what with the Catholic Church against the death penalty,” he said. He said there are also party-list representatives, including Lito Atienza of Buhay, who are opposed to capital punishment. “I think it will face rough sailing,” he added.

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