Death penalty inches forward in House
The House of Representatives’ justice committee would soon start deliberating on a proposed measure reinstating the death penalty in the largely Catholic Philippines, after a subpanel approved the bill on Tuesday.
Six congressmen voted to submit a substitute bill reimposing capital punishment during a hearing by the judicial reforms subcommittee, 10 years after the government signed a law abolishing the death penalty after it was established it did not stop crime.
Under the proposal, treason, piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and illegal detention, robbery with violence, destructive arson, plunder, drug-related crimes and carnapping are punishable by death either through hanging, by firing squad or lethal injection.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of those instrumental in abolishing death penalty, charged on Tuesday that the House was moving to speed up its revival.
“In other words, the message of the House leadership is: ‘Have a deadly Christmas,’” Lagman said.
The six who voted for reimposition were Deputy Speakers Fredenil Castro (Capiz, 2nd District) and Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA party-list), and Representatives Robert Ace Barbers (Surigao del Norte, 2nd District), Arturo Defensor Jr. (Iloilo, 3rd District), Alfredo Garbin Jr. (Ako Bicol party-list), and Aurelio Gonzales Jr. (Pampanga, 3rd District).
Another five voted for a version of the proposal that limited the death penalty to drug-related crimes.
These were Deputy Speaker Representatives Eric Singson (Ilocos Sur, 2nd District), Luis Campos (Makati, 2nd District), Eugene De Vera (ABS Party-list), Roger Mercado, (Southern Leyte), and Victoria Noel (An Waray Party-list).
Representatives Lawrence Fortun (Agusan del Norte, 1st District) and Ramon Rocamora (Siquijor) voted for neither bill.
After the hearing, the measure would be forwarded to the mother committee. Once approved, it will be brought to the plenary for debates.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who coauthored the surviving bill, said the measure would head to plenary before Congress goes on Christmas break.
He said the bill went through proper deliberations because “if it was really railroaded, it should have been passed in August.”
Capital punishment was abolished in 2006 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Offenses previously punishable by death were downgraded to life imprisonment.