Solons warn of death penalty railroad by limiting it to drug cases
The bill seeking to reimpose the death penalty pending at the House of Representatives is being railroaded by limiting it to cases involving illegal drugs, an opposition lawmaker said Tuesday.
In a press briefing by the “Magnificent Seven” minority bloc, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said he has talked with the House justice committee chairperson Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali who said the committee is looking at limiting death penalty to drug-related cases.
This was a way for the House to be more amenable to restoring capital punishment if it would be limited to drug convicts, Lagman said.
“That was discussed among the chairperson, vice chairpersons of the subcommittee, and myself yesterday… The chairman of justice said most probably it would be preferable to limit the reimposition of death penalty on drug-related cases. I objected to it because no more crime should be punishable by death,” Lagman said.
Lagman said this arrangement was a “way of hastening passage of the bill because some might agree to just limit it to drug-related cases.”
Lagman said he would oppose any moves to restore capital punishment, whatever the nature of the crime would be.
“What’s important is there should be no reimposition of the death penalty because it is against human rights and it’s not a deterrent to crime,” Lagman said.
Lagman said the House leadership is clearly railroading the passage of the death penalty by scheduling weekly whole-day marathon public consultations on the proposed reimposition in a bid to meet Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s deadline of passing it before the year ends.
“There is an imminent railroading of the proposed bill reimposing death penalty. Today, the committee on justice set a whole day meetings, and again tomorrow.. That would only show to you they would like to railroad the passage of this bill in the subcommittee level, and same strategy will hold true in the committee level,” Lagman said.
Lagman said at least 12 incumbent lawmakers who were part of the 13th Congress opposition to the death penalty have joined the independent minority bloc to oppose anew capital punishment in the current 17th Congress.
He added that there are 26 more incumbent members related to former lawmakers who opposed the death penalty in the 13th Congress joining the bandwagon to oppose death penalty in the 17th Congress.
“We will have to keep it closed to our chests. We don’t want to unduly alarm the leadership of the super majority. We have significant numbers,” Lagman said when pressed for more details.
For his part, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza said railroading the death penalty for drug cases would validate the spate of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug criminals at the height of the administration’s war on drugs.
“This is a way of somehow validating the extrajudicial killing.. Pag nga naman pag ma-reimpose ang death penalty kahit sa drug-related cases lamang, sasabihin nila, eh Kongreso ang sumang-ayon eh. So this is a way of validating or synthesizing the ongoing extrajudicial killings that is being reported to the media,” Daza said.
It was Alvarez who first filed the bill seeking to reimpose the death penalty after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo abolished capital punishment in 2006 for its failure to deter crime.
Alvarez filed the bill pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promise of returning capital punishment against heinous criminals.
Alvarez’s bill sought to reimpose the death penalty for heinous crimes listed under Republic Act 7659, including murder, plunder, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, sale, use and possession of illegal drugs, carnapping with homicide, among others.
In the bill he co-authored with deputy speaker Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, Alvarez said there is a need to reimpose the death penalty because “the national crime rate has grown to such alarming proportions requiring an all-out offensive against all forms of felonious acts.”
“Philippine society is left with no option but to deal with certain grievous offenders in a manner commensurate to the gravity, perversity, atrociousness and repugnance of their crimes,” according to the bill.
Duterte won the elections on a campaign promise to restore the death penalty by hanging, even making a snide remark that the convict’s head should be severed by hanging. Alvarez said Congress would look into the cheapest way for the death penalty, either by firing squad, lethal injection or by hanging. RAM/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.