MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a grim warning, saying he will carry out daily executions of criminals once the death penalty is restored.
"Ibalik mo sa akin 'yan...araw-arawin ko yan. Lima, anim," he said during Senator Manny Pacquiao's 38th birthday celebration in General Santos on Saturday.
(Give it back to me, and I will perform daily executions. Five, six.)
"You destroy my country, I destroy you," he added. The president believes capital punishment failed to deter crime in the past only because only few executions were carried out.
Death penalty in the country was abolished under the 1987 Constitution--the first Asian country to do so--but was reinstated under President Fidel V. Ramos in 1993 in response to increasing crime rates.
It was again abolished under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006, reducing the harshest penalties to life imprisonment and reclusion perpetua.
Even before being elected in the 2016 polls, Duterte has been pushing for the revival of death penalty, saying it would serve as retribution for those who committed heinous crimes.
In a meeting after it was clear he won the elections, Duterte told some lawmakers he favors hanging over lethal injection as means of execution.
A bill seeking to reinstate the death penalty has recently been approved at the sub-committee level in the House of Representatives, and a principal author is optimistic on an "overwhelming" support from his colleagues.
Pacquiao, who had filed Senate Bill 185 proposing that death penalty be reimposed and the penalties be increased for heinous crimes involving dangerous drugs in October, is positive that fellow senators would back the bill.
The bill is being opposed by the Catholic Church, human rights groups, and even some lawmakers, who assert that death penalty is not a crime deterrent.