More ‘tokhang-for-ransom’ seen if death penalty revived

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House senior deputy minority leader and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza warned of “a deluge of tokhang-for-ransom and hulidap” by rotten police officers once Congress revives the death penalty.

“You can count on it. Corrupt police officers engaged in all sorts of criminal activities will have a heyday. They will use the mere threat of the death sentence to get whatever they want from their targets – their victims. We will have more cases like those of Korean business executive Jee Ick-Joo,” Atienza said.

A group of Philippine National Police (PNP) officers seized Jee from his home in Angeles City then brought him to Camp Crame where SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel strangled him to death in a case of “tokhang-for-ransom,” according to evidence presented at a Senate hearing.

Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Sta. Isabel professed innocence and claimed that he was set up by his unit leader, the PNP’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Group’s Supt. Rafael Dumlao 3rd, who is now under restrictive custody.


“Right now, even without the death penalty, we are already witness to the rampant abuse of police power by crooked officers. The problem is bound to get worse once we have the death penalty,” Atienza said.

“Camp Crame itself claims that more than 6,000 officers are involved in the illegal drug trade. That is an understatement. What about the officers tied to extortion and protection rackets, kidnapping-for-ransom, robbery, carjacking, murder-for-hire, illegal gambling and other criminal activities?” he added.

“Violent crime is thriving not because of the absence of a death penalty but because law enforcement has been overwhelmed by corruption. Instead of fighting hooligans, many officers are themselves wrapped up in all sorts of felonious undertakings,” Atienza said.

“The death penalty won’t address rampant crime. On the contrary, it could spur more crime, particularly those perpetrated by depraved officers,” the lawmaker said as he called for “the total overhaul of law enforcement ranks and comprehensive reforms in the entire criminal justice system.”

President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to execute five to six lawbreakers every day once Congress revives the death penalty.

The House is set to begin on Monday plenary debates on a bill seeking to bring back the death sentence for heinous crimes. The committee on justice earlier voted to push for the immediate passage of the bill.

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