THE death penalty, if approved by Congress, would undermine the special treatment enjoyed by the Philippines under the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+), Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
“Basically, the GSP+ is under threat if the death penalty approved, because under international conventions the Philippines committed not to bring back the death penalty,” Lopez said last week.
However, Lopez added he would support the policies of the Duterte administration.
“I would go with what is good for the country. In other words, if to maintain peace and order and improve security conditions in our country, if bringing back the death penalty is the solution, I would go with it,” the Cabinet official noted, saying he would then justify before the country’s trading partners under the GSP scheme and seek their flexibility for the sake of the Philippines.
The Philippines was given preferential status under the European Union-GSP+ in December 2014, allowing the duty-free export of 6,274 eligible products to the EU market.
Prior to the EU-GSP+ status, the Philippines was covered by the regular EU-GSP only 2,442 products at zero tariff and 3,767 products at reduced tariffs.
Lopez said his understanding of the GSP scheme is to help a developing country improve its economy and uplift the lives of the people.
“If bringing back the death penalty is a solution to peace and order, and helping the nation progress more with peace and discipline in the people, they should support it,” Lopez said.
He reiterated: “I would go with what our administration would push for. And for me, it is good for the country. Because all these efforts we’ve been doing, crime rates have gone down. And perhaps, because of this anti-drug campaign, crime rates have gone down by 20 percent.”
Lopez said he believes the Duterte administration is doing what is best for the people.
“The bottom line is we do what is best for our country, the people. Bring back peace, order, security that would bring in investments and employment. And let’s just hope those real friends and supporters will continue with their support and help us make that development happen,” he said.