MANILA – Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva told the Senate on Tuesday that he is in favor of both the reimposition of the death penalty for big-time drug traffickers and the compassionate use of marijuana.
Villanueva said the capital punishment will send a clear message on how serious the government is in ending the menace brought about by dangerous drugs.
"Magkapareho naman tayo ng pananaw dito (We have the same view about this), Mr. Chair. But this time, dun lang tayo sa (we'll just focus on) big-time drug traffickers, coddlers particularly sa gobyerno (in the government), and protectors dun sa mga (among) elected public officials," Villanueva told Senator Ronald dela Rosa, chair of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
Villanueva said the measure must not be seen as a tool to curtail the prospects of rehabilitating users and street-level pushers.
Ultimately, he said, it is to go after big-time drug traffickers, coddlers, financiers, and protectors and to end the supply, demand, and harm.
"Once na ma-isabatas natin ‘yan, ewan ko lang kung meron pang papatol diyan sa business ng illegal drugs (Once we pass that into law, I don't think anyone will still engage in the illegal drugs business," Villanueva added.
Dela Rosa said investigations on drug traffickers should be accurate.
"Very crucial tayo diyan. Kailangan magaling ang imbestigador dito. Dapat maganda ang investigation talaga (We are very crucial on that. The investigator here should be competent. The investigation should be good)," the lawmaker said.
In a previous interview with a news channel, dela Rosa said he will call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to certify the bill as urgent.
"I will convince him through my experience. I’ve been working in anti-drug operations since I was a Lieutenant in the (now-defunct) Philippine Constabulary," he said.
As the first chief of the Philippine National Police under the Duterte administration, he led the war against illegal drugs starting in 2016.
He said 11 death penalty bills were filed by nine senators in the 18th Congress but none got past the committee level.
Apart from the death penalty, Villanueva said he also supports the bill allowing the compassionate use of marijuana for medical purposes but with applicable safeguards.
The measure filed by Senator Robinhood Padilla seeks the expansion of research into the medicinal properties of marijuana, which has been widely used as herbal medicine to treat conditions including gout, rheumatism, and malaria.
Villanueva said he knew of a cancer patient who asked for the authorization from the Dangerous Drugs Board for the compassionate use of marijuana.
"Pero hindi naman pwede dito ‘yung (But we should not allow) recreational marijuana. Dapat (It should be) in a form of medical. Wala naman tayong pag-uusapan dun kasi nakakatulong talaga eh (There is nothing we can talk about it because it really helps)," he told the Senate.
Aside from dela Rosa, senators Raffy Tulfo, JV Ejercito, and Francis Tolentino, the committee vice chair, agreed with Villanueva’s view.
Padilla was no longer around when the compassionate use of marijuana was discussed.
Dela Rosa underscored the importance of making sure the efforts of the previous administration in fighting illegal drugs and insurgency will not be wasted.
“I am sure that we will be able to protect and maintain the peace and order of our communities and the nation we honor and have sworn to fight for,” Dela Rosa said during the Senate panel meeting. (PNA)