MANILA – The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has renewed its call for the death penalty for corrupt officials after President Rodrigo Duterte himself brought it up during his fifth and penultimate state of the nation address (SONA) on July 27.

PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica urged the Congress to reinstate capital punishment for corrupt officials, saying corruption is “as bad as murder” and “as bad as illegal drugs” because it also leaves a lasting effect on victims.

“Iyan po ay original na proposal ko noon-noon pa, sir (That has been my proposal a long time ago). Corruption should be a heinous crime, categorized as a heinous crime, and should be penalized by death. Ang sa amin nga noon by hanging pero okay naman din ang lethal injection (In the past, we wanted death by hanging, but lethal injection would be okay, too),” he said in a Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday.

Belgica said corruption should be considered a “heinous crime” because it sucks public funds dry, leaving Filipinos poverty-stricken.

“Corruption -- I know, especially corruption from high ranking government officials should be treated as heinous crimes para po (so that) to at least justice will be served,” he said.

Before the death penalty is reimposed, Belgica said there should be improvements made in the country’s justice system.

“We need a strong justice system kung saan hindi matagal ang kaso and we need more courts para ho mabilis nalilitis ang kaso, hindi natatambak ho sa court (where cases don’t take long and we need more courts so cases will be resolved without getting stuck in court),” he said.

In his SONA last Monday, Duterte asked Congress to pass a law reviving the death penalty for drug-related crimes.

"I reiterate the swift passage of the law reviving the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002," Duterte said.

Last Tuesday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said lawmakers are unlikely to pass a measure reinstating the death penalty during the current session unless it will be applied to convicted drug lords.

He said the Senate would do its best to tackle all of them within a year, but noted that the priorities are recovery and stimulus packages for the economy during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Duterte mentioned 21 priority bills during his speech, of which five were meant to address the prevailing health crisis.

On the other hand, the House Committee on Justice is set to start debates on the reimposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes on Wednesday.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano promised the public a "very healthy" debate on the proposal to revive capital punishment. (PNA)