House to review, clarify death penalty bill for drug possession
MANILA, Philippines — House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro on Thursday said the controversial death penalty bill, the approval of which was withdrawn by the chamber on Wednesday would be reverted for second reading approval as soon as it has been “cleansed of all death penalty references.”
In a statement, Castro said House Bill No. 8909 would be presented for second and third reading approval preferably before the start of the congressional break on Feb. 9.
Passed on final reading last Monday, HB 8909, which sought to amend Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, seeks to impose “life imprisonment to death” against persons found in possession of dangerous drugs during parties, social gatherings and meetings.
“We decided to reconsider final reading approval in order to clarify provisions of the bill that refer to the death penalty. This will prevent double or multiple interpretations of the death penalty provisions that might mislead Filipinos into believing that death sentence has been restored,” explained Castro.
Castro further pointed out that even if the bill is passed in its original form, the death penalty provisions would still not be implemented unless Congress passes a law that restores death as capital punishment.
“In order to be clear, we are going to amend by substitution, erasing all provisions that refer to death penalty. We have to be categorical that the maximum penalty to be imposed is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,” he said.
Section 13 of the proposed law states that “any person found possessing any dangerous drugs during a party, or at a social gathering or meeting, or in the proximate company of at least two persons shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine of P500,000 to P10 million, regardless of the quantity and purity of such dangerous drugs.”
Negligent lessors whose properties have been turned into a drug laboratory, drug den, and venue for other illegal drug activities would also be penalized under HB 8909.
On March 7, 2017, the House already gave its nod to House Bill No. 4727 seeking to reimpose capital punishment for heinous drug-related offenses with a vote of 217-54-1.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then a deputy speaker, voted against the controversial measure, which remains stagnant at the Senate.
On June 24, 2006, the death penalty was suspended through Republic Act No. 9346, which was signed by then-President Arroyo. /gsg
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.