No execution of death row convicts in Duterte term possible–Fariñas
Majority leader Rudy Fariñas on Tuesday said it is possible there will be no convicts executed during the term of President Rodrigo Duterte even if the death penalty is reimposed.
In an ambush interview with reporters, the Ilocos Norte congressman said the gestation period for convicting a heinous criminal would take more than five years, which means even if the bill is passed into law, a criminal can only be convicted to death row after the administration of Duterte, who is limited to a six-year term.
“It’s possible na walang ma-execute sa term ng President. The President has about five years and four months left. Isipin mo gaano katagal yung gestation period ng conviction ng death penalty. Matagal yan,” Fariñas said.
(It’s possible no one will be executed under the term of the President. The President has about five years and four months left. Think about how long the gestation period would be in securing a conviction for death penalty. That would take long.)
Fariñas said an execution of a death row convict is not possible in the next four to five years after the passage of the death penalty bill into law.
“Even with the reimposition of the death penalty, you cannot expect an execution in the next four or five years,” he added.
Fariñas said it is also possible that the death penalty may be improved in the future by using better equipment in executing death row convicts.
The bill proposes three methods of capital punishment–lethal injection, firing squad and hanging.
Fariñas added that the death penalty bill would be amended to provide safeguards for the protection of a person accused of committing a heinous crime.
Fariñas said among the amendments in the bill is 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 that the offense was heinous, so that they can see that what the judge did was right.)
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 today’s 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. CDG
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