Death penalty bill lacks the numbers; House debates reset
The supermajority in the House of Representatives lacks the numbers to pass the death penalty bill, prompting them to push back the floor debates on the measure to next year, opposition lawmakers said on Tuesday.
“I am happy there will be no deadly Christmas,” said Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a leader of the minority bloc that calls itself the “Magnificent 7.”
Lagman said he learned from House members who attended the majority caucus last week that there was a sizable number who are undecided or against the reimposition of capital punishment for heinous crimes.
“They do not have the numbers. Between those who stood for reimposition and did not, it seems more people were undecided,” he told reporters. “I cannot give you numbers because it’s still fluid.”
Lagman considers this a victory in the “first battle” for those opposed to one of the priority bills being pushed by President Duterte’s administration.
Last week, the House justice committee approved the bill by a 12-6 vote, sending the measure to the plenary for second and third reading.
But House leaders decided to postpone deliberations for next year to pave the way for a “full debate.”
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas estimated that about half of the 293-seat chamber supported the bill, with 15 percent opposed and 35 percent undecided. A simple majority is needed for such a bill to pass.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez dismissed suggestions that the bill did not have enough supporters.
“Let us just count during the voting. Let me take care of that,” he said.
Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin said it would be a “conscience vote.”
“We can say many are coming around. We are taking a stand, and we are gaining ground,” he said.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said restoring the death penalty was “a backward step without moral necessity.”
“Indeed the Constitution says that there must be a compelling reason to reimpose the death penalty and there is none today,” he said.
The proposed “Death Penalty Law” covers 21 “heinous” offenses and executions may be carried out by hanging, firing squad or lethal injection.
The crimes include treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence, destructive arson, plunder, and dangerous drug importation./rga