Opposition slams stand on South China Sea, death penalty
MANILA, Philippines — Members of the opposition slammed yesterday President Duterte’s call to revive the death penalty and his statement that he was “inutile” and “cannot do anything” in the face of China’s aggression in the South China Sea, parts of which the Philippines also claims.
Duterte made the statements during his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday.
Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, in a post on Twitter, reminded Duterte about the Philippines’ historic victory against China before the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal at The Hague in July 2016, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.
“Re West Philippine Sea: Duterte says both the Philippines and China claim it and China is in possession. Wrong. We already have legal title to WPS because we won in Philippines versus China. The world agrees. China is in illegal possession of some features, not (the) entirety of WPS. Philippine military still patrols WPS,” said Hilbay, referring to the West Philippine Sea. Hilbay was part of the legal team that filed the case in 2012.
Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno denounced Duterte’s call for the reimposition of the death penalty in the country for drug-related charges.
“The problem is we don’t have a fair justice system. The small people are easily jailed, but the big-time and those who have connections are surely absolved. What good will the death penalty do with this system?” Diokno said, also on Twitter.
In his SONA, Duterte called on Congress for the swift passage of the law reviving the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
At the House of Representatives, administration allies and even members of the minority and opposition have expressed support and cooperation to the measures that will address the COVID-19 pandemic that the Chief Executive laid out yesterday.
House Minority Leader Benny Abante and Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo both agreed with Duterte on the need for Congress to prioritize measures for economic recovery from the recession caused by the pandemic.
“The economy is reeling. People are anxious and businesses are closed. I don’t think there’s something more important than to address this pandemic,” Abante said at a virtual press briefing. “The responses to the pandemic are what we’re waiting for, actually. We would like to see things done in the course of this pandemic.”
Quimbo agreed and welcomed the President’s push for the proposed Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy Act (ARISE) and COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus Act (CURES).
“We need ARISE and CURES soon after so that an appropriate scale of stimulus can be provided,” she stressed.
But Quimbo, author of ARISE, appealed to economic managers to increase their plan to allocate P140 billion to the economic stimulus measures.
“P140 billion is not enough to revive the economy. We cannot fight cancer with Biogesic. We need aggressive, targeted chemotherapy. Economic stimulus has to be big enough so it is impactful and not wasted,” Quimbo, who is an economist, argued. – Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla, Edu Punay, Louise Maureen Simeon