House to approve death penalty bill before Christmas break
TOKYO— Before it goes on Christmas break, the House of Representatives plans to approve on third and final reading a bill that would bring back the death penalty, a priority measure of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has often threatened to kill criminals.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the House would work to approve state-sanctioned killings of drug convicts and those involved in heinous crimes.
“I don’t know with the Senate, I don’t control it, but as far as the House is concerned, we will approve it before the Christmas break,” Alvarez told reporters in Tokyo, where he joined Mr. Duterte on his official visit to Japan.
He said the House plans to leave it up to the executive to set the method for executing hardened criminals.
“If they want to hang them, shoot them by firing squad, it’s up to them. The criminals would be dead either way,” he said.
He also defended the controversial measure, saying it did not work before because the state did not kill enough criminals when it was in effect.
He noted that critics of the death penalty often insisted that it was not a deterrent to crime.
“Before they speak, they should look at the record first. How many were killed? It had not been a deterrent because they kept on objecting, so it was not implemented,” he told reporters in Tokyo, where he joined Mr. Duterte in his official visit to Japan.
It would have been different had it been implemented properly, he said.
“What if it had been implemented like in Indonesia, where you will be executed if they say so?” he asked.
Mr. Duterte himself made a fresh pitch for the death penalty when he spoke before the Filipino community in Japan, whom he faced upon arrival in Tokyo, where he railed against criminals who prey on innocent, hard-working Filipinos.
He also responded to the contention that the death penalty had not been effective when it was in place.
“They said, ‘Duterte, the death penalty was in place and nothing happened, it was all the same. Why do you want to bring it back?’” he said.
“Fool… I was not the President back then. Had I been the President, we won’t have to talk about this now,” he added.
Capital punishment in the Philippines was abolished in 2006 during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who approved the measure because it did not serve to deter crime.
The 1987 Constitution states that the death penalty should not be imposed unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, Congress provides for it./rga