UNDOUBTEDLY, President Rodrigo R. Duterte is among the few voices in the government who want the return of capital punishment in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation.
Of course, nobody will argue with Duterte and the rest of those pushing for the re-imposition of death penalty because of the mushrooming number of criminals, particularly drug lords.
And in the view of various quarters, President Duterte’s plan to grant executive clemency to elderly, aging, seriously ill and dying inmates demonstrates the mold he is made of.
“Galit siya sa mga pusakal na kriminal, pero may malambot na puso pala siya pagdating sa mga matatanda, may sakit at malapit nang mamatay na bilanggo,” said an avid fan of Duterte.
The hard-hitting Chief Executive from Mindanao had earlier granted absolute pardon to actor Robin Padilla, who was convicted for illegal possession of firearms in 1994.
Padilla was released after four years after he was given a conditional pardon by former President Fidel V. Ramos.
The absolute pardon restored the actor’s civil and political rights, including his right to vote and run for public office.
“Lahat ng matatanda (na) may sakit, ’yung may rayuma na, hindi na makatakbo, 80 years old (and) above -- kung gusto nila, kung may mauuwian pa sila, I will grant them pardon also so that they could return home,” said Duterte.
No less than Chief Public Attorney Dr. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta described Padilla’s pardon as “the beginning of hope for old, aged, dying and seriously ill inmates.”
Reports said that at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, there are 200 elderly awaiting executive clemency.
Compassion must be reserved for those aging and dying inmates as proposed by many quarters.
But not the hardened criminals, including drug lords and pushers, who remain menace to Philippine society.