Ex-Interior chief wants death penalty for environmental destruction

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 1) — A former Interior Secretary who is running for senator in the May 2019 polls wants the death penalty restored for various offenses, including the destruction of the environment.

Former Interior chief Rafael "Raffy" Alunan III told CNN Philippines' The Source that if elected as senator, he would work to restore the death penalty for the destruction of forests and watersheds, and irresponsible mining.

"We're talking about our survival lifelines and the future of our children," Alunan said Friday.

"The chemicals that they use in mining, they pollute our waters. And if it's polluted with all those toxic chemicals, how can we use the water for agriculture? How can we use it for drinking? And then that goes out to sea and that destroys the spawning grounds for our fish," he added.

Aside from environmental destruction, Alunan also wants to reimpose the death penalty for murder, drugs, terrorism, human trafficking, plunder and corruption.

Alunan was Interior Secretary under the administration of former President Fidel Ramos, who restored the death penalty for heinous crimes after it was abolished by the 1987 Constitution. Capital punishment was abolished anew during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The restoration of the death penalty is among the platforms of the Duterte administration.

The House, dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte's allies, passed in 2017 a bill imposing capital punishment for drug-related crimes, but not for heinous crimes like rape and plunder. The measure has stalled in the Senate, whose members are less receptive to the idea.

In his State of the Nation Address in 2018, Duterte warned mining companies to cease operations that are causing harm to the environment.

"Do not destroy the environment or compromise our resources; repair what you have mismanaged. Try to change [your] management radically because this time you will have restrictive policies," Duterte said.

More funding for justice system, uniformed personnel

Aside from the death penalty, Alunan said he would also prioritize pouring in more funding  for the criminal justice system and the modernization of the military and the police if he gets elected as senator.

He said that the country's courts are "jurassic" and should upgrade and use artificial intelligence to speed up the settlement of cases. He added that he would push for a "house cleaning" of the Interior and Justice departments and the judiciary.

Alunan mounted a failed Senate run in 2016, when he was also endorsed by then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. However, he admitted that he was fully aware that he would lose and only ran to reintroduce himself.

"I ran in 2016 to introduce myself to the public because my advisers were telling me na [that] you can't win in 2016," Alunan said. "I'm still running and this is my winning run now."