Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante (File photo)

MANILA – Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante on Wednesday called for the reimposition of the death penalty, claiming that this could be the only way to prevent the murder of innocent people.

This came in the wake of the recent killing of veteran broadcaster Percival Mabasa also known as "Percy Lapid".

"If a prison cell cannot stop a criminal from plotting and ordering the murder of another person, then the death penalty may be the only way to prevent the murder of innocent citizens and journalists like Percy Lapid," Abante said in a statement, noting more details of the case were revealed following the confession of gunman Joel Escorial.

Abante authored House Bill 4121, or the Death Penalty Law, which would reimpose capital punishment for crimes such as murder, treason, drug trafficking, and plunder.

“This jail cell conspiracy that led to the tragic death of an outspoken journalist is proof that incarceration is not enough to stop criminals from committing more crimes," he said.

In a confession released to the media, Escorial admitted that he received orders to kill Lapid from an alleged middleman identified as inmate Crisanto Palana Villamor, who recently died due to still undetermined causes.

Abante said "this is not the first time we have discovered crimes being carried out from inside our prison."

He said reports of illegal drug trafficking and drug use among inmates of the New Bilibid Prison have surfaced since 2014, when a series of raids by law enforcement officials unearthed the presence of shabu and other drug paraphernalia in air-conditioned quarters built for convicted drug dealers.

"While these may have been already addressed, the disturbing reality is that as long as there are jailed criminals who have the resources to bribe, coerce, or even threaten our corrections officers, they remain a danger to society," he said.

In cases such as these, Abante said, death is the only punishment that can neutralize them.

While the death penalty was abolished in 2006 under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Constitution gives Congress the power to reimpose it. (PNA)