VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Anti-death penalty advocate Sen. Gordon uses repealed death penalty law to warn ‘ninja cops’

Sen. Richard Gordon warned “ninja cops” -- police officers allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade -- of facing capital punishment, which has already been abolished in the country.

STATEMENT

In an Oct. 21 media interview, Gordon, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that investigated “ninja cops,” said:

"That’s why I tell them (“ninja cops”), ‘Get a good lawyer because that’s capital punishment.’ When you plant evidence, when you sell the evidence -- drugs -- that’s capital punishment."

Source: ANC 24/7, PH Senator: Justice Department, Ombudsman should file charges vs. Albayalde, ‘Ninja cops’, Oct. 21, 2019, watch from 14:22 to 14:34

He reiterated this in his official Twitter account:

Planting evidence or planting DRUGS is a CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. You can be executed for that.

Source: Richard Gordon official Twitter account, Planting evidence…, Oct. 21, 2019

FACT

Republic Act (RA) 7659 or the Death Penalty Law was already repealed in 2006.

Enacted in 1993 to address the “alarming upsurge of [heinous] crimes,” the death penalty was eventually prohibited by RA 9346 and had been downgraded to either reclusion perpetua -- 20 years and one day to 40 years of imprisonment -- or life imprisonment. (See How we kill: Notes on the death penalty in the Philippines)

Under the repealed death penalty law, selling prohibited drugs and “planting” evidence or of any “dangerous drugs” by government officials, including police, may warrant capital punishment.

Heeding President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to restore death penalty in the country, several lawmakers in both houses of Congress have filed death penalty bills. At least seven bills in the Senate and 10 in the House of Representatives explicitly cover drug-related offenses.

Gordon, who will conduct the hearings for the said measures as Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee chair, has opposed the reimposition of the death penalty, saying he does not “believe in [its] efficacy” to deter crime and drug use in the country. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Then and now: How these lawmakers stand on the death penalty)

A high profile “ninja cops” incident happened in Mexico, Pampanga in 2013 involving 13 rogue police officers who allegedly recycled 160 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. The incident also implicated resigned police chief Oscar Albayalde who was provincial director of Pampanga at the time.


Sources

ANC 24/7, PH Senator: Justice Department, Ombudsman should file charges vs. Albayalde, ‘Ninja cops’, Oct. 21, 2019

Richard Gordon official Twitter account, Planting evidence..., Oct. 21, 2019

Official Gazette, Republic Act 7659, Dec. 13, 1993

Official Gazette, Republic Act 9346, June 24, 2006

Presidential Communications Operations Office, State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2019 (Speech), July 22, 2019

Senate.gov.ph, Bills - 18th Congress

Congress.gov.ph, House Bills and Resolutions - 18th Congress

GMA News Online, Gordon not keen on sponsoring refiled death penalty bills in the Senate, July 7, 2019

Manila Bulletin, Gordon argues against efficacy of death penalty in combatting illegal drug trade, July 7, 2019

Abante TNT, Death penalty bill ayaw dipensahan ni Gordon, n.d.

ABS-CBN News, Albayalde tagged in Pampanga ‘ninja cops’ complaint, Oct. 21, 2019

CNN Philippines, Albayalde now included in PNP’s criminal complaint on ‘ninja cops’, Oct. 21, 2019

Rappler.com, Senate panels recommend criminal charges vs Albayalde, ‘ninja cops’ over 2013 drug raid, Oct. 18, 2019



(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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