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Minority solons to House leadeship: Pause, think about death penalty

/ 06:36 PM February 14, 2017
The plenary hall of the House of Representatives

The plenary hall of the House of Representatives. (Photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

An independent minority lawmaker called on the leadership of the House of Representatives to reconsider its support for the death penalty bill due to the country’s treaty obligations for the abolition of capital punishment.

In a press conference at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza urged the House leadership to “pause and think” about the country’s obligations to abolish the death penalty, the central issue that stalled the deliberations in the Senate.

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Senators centered on the country’s obligations to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which under the Second Optional Protocol states that “Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction.”

READ: Solons torn between death penalty and international treaty 

Daza urged the members of the majority supporting the bill to allow Senate to first consider the treaty obligation, which if found valid would render the House bill seeking to restore the death penalty moot and academic.

“The House leadership, given this new development, should pause and think because in the event that the Senate asserts its authority to uphold and restate our treaty commitments under the protocol, the House bill becomes moot and academic,” Daza said.

For his part, Albay Rep Edcel Lagman said the House should not waste its time on deliberatingon  the death penalty if it would be an exercise in futility.

He called on the congressional leaders to meet and thresh out its differing positions on the death penalty.

“I’m urging the House as well as the Senate leadership to meet in order to iron out this particular difference. Otherwise, we in the House would be engaged in an exercise in futility if the Senate will not approve any measure reimposing death penalty,” Lagman said.

The House bill is expected to limit crimes punishable with death to the most heinous, making the proposal more favorable to lawmakers, and indicating that the death penalty bill has better chances in the lower House than in the Senate.

READ: Solons had change of heart on capital punishment—House leader

House Bill 4727 restoring death penalty is seen to be a priority legislation in the House of Representatives.

The bill seeks to impose death penalty on more than 20 heinous offenses, such as rape with homicide, kidnapping for ransom and arson with death.

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According to the original version of the bill, the following are punishable by death under the Revised Penal Code—treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with homicide, rape, intentional mutilation or arson and destructive arson.

READ: IN THE KNOW: Death penalty

Plunder is also punishable with reclusion perpetua to death according to the Republic Act 7080 or the plunder law as amended by Republic Act 7659.

Some lawmakers, however, believe plunder should not be punishable with death under the bill.

READ: ‘Plunder still in death penalty bill unless removed during amendments’ 

The following offenses under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act are also punishable with death—importation; sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation; maintenance of a den, dive or resort; manufacture; possession of certain quantities of dangerous drugs; cultivation; unlawful prescription; misappropriation or failure to account confiscated, seized or surrendered dangerous drugs; and planting of evidence.

Carnapping is also a criminal offense punishable with death under the Anti-Carnapping Act or Republic Act 6539.

Justice committee chairperson, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, said the House leadership is willing to reduce the list of crimes punishable under death only to the most heinous—drug trade and abuse, murder, kidnapping, carnapping and rape.

Umali said though that plunder may be removed from the list as it is not as heinous a crime as those committed against persons and life. RAM

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House leaders willing to limit scope of crimes punishable by death 
Alvarez: Plunder already punishable with death under law 
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TAGS: Death Penalty Bill, House, leadeship, minority solons, PH
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