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Speedy passage of death penalty bill alarms CHR

/ 06:52 PM March 02, 2017
House of Representatives in plenary session

The House tackles the death penalty bill on second reading on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.(Photo by JOAN BONDOC/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm on Thursday over the speed that the death penalty bill was passed on second reading by the House of Representatives.

“The House of Representatives yesterday closed the period of individual amendments and approved on second reading in haste of HB4727, in an unusual deviation from House rules and in a manner not befitting a transparent and human rights-based approach to legislation,” the commission said in a statement.

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The commission said the House “overwhelmingly voted in favor of a motion for an omnibus rejection of any proposed amendments that seek to change the nature of the bill.”

The commission said it recognized the independence of the House. But in Wednesday’s plenary session, the House suspended regular process preventing individual lawyers from speaking up on the bill.

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“The voices of the HOR minority are thus stifled and the independence of the HOR as a whole is now sadly suspect,” the statement said.

The commission questioned the manner of voting throughout the process, like viva voce, because it barred the public from knowing the stand of individual representatives and the actual vote count.

“The traditional practice of nominal voting with HOR members explaining their votes was done away with in haste, sacrificing congressional transparency,” the commission said.

It also noted that the arguments against the validity of the proposed legislation in accordance with the Constitution and international human rights law were “seriously disregarded” by the HOR.

“We reiterate our objections to the passage of HB4727 and call on the entire Congress to seriously study and consider the bill’s implications on the country’s international human rights treaty obligations, as well as the bill’s unconstitutionality,” the commission said. /atm

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