Rights of accused protected in death penalty bill — Fariñas
Majority leader Rudy Fariñas on Wednesday said the bill reimposing the death penalty would protect the rights of people accused of heinous crimes.
In an ambush interview at the House of Representatives, the Ilocos Norte congressman said the leadership would be providing copies of the amendments to the bill during the plenary session.
Fariñas said among the amendments in the bill was a provision allowing church officials and civic rights groups to assist a person accused of a heinous crime.
He said a fiscal or prosecutor would furnish copies of the charge sheet to the Commission on Human Rights, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Free Legal Assistance Group, and all religious groups.
Fariñas said this would enable these groups to monitor all death penalty cases.
“This is a community effort. If you feel we have an imperfect judicial system, let’s do our share by monitoring our judicial system,” Fariñas said.
The church officials and lawyers would see for themselves the rationale behind the imposition of the death penalty, Fariñas said.
“Yung mga madre at pari, very strong in their advocacy, then they will go there para ma-safeguard yung rights ng accused. Para makita nila na karumaldumal yung offense, para makita nila na yung judge, ang gagawin niya ay tama,” he said.
(The priests and nuns who are very strong in their advocacy will go there to safeguard the rights of the accused. So that they may see for themselves the heinous offense, so that they can see that what the judge did was right.)
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Fariñas also said the bill would require the Public Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Solicitor General to assign senior lawyers in handling the automatic review of appealed cases involving death penalty.
Fariñas lamented the moves of the opposition to block the prompt passage of the bill by questioning the quorum and moving to adjourn session in the middle of plenary debates.
In that case, the House better conclude the debates and move on to the period of amendments to speed up the second and third reading approval of the bill, he added.
The vote on the bill under second reading is scheduled on Feb. 28.
Fariñas said the plenary debates should end on a later session to give the lawmakers time to discuss the period of amendments next week before approval on Feb. 28.
The bill would limit the heinous crimes to drug-related offenses, plunder, treason and rape.
Meanwhile, the death penalty bill in the Senate hit a gridlock after 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.” CBB
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