New death penalty bill to include plunder, rape
After getting drug-related offenses out of the way, the House of Representatives may just expand the death penalty to include more crimes on a piecemeal basis down the road.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday raised the possibility of filing a new death penalty bill to include plunder and rape, which were dropped to speed up consensus and fast-track the passage of the administration measure.
In a bid to finally pass the death penalty bill, Alvarez again threatened House leaders to vote for the measure if they do not want to lose their committee positions or deputy status.
Even abstention or absence from the plenary session would result in reprisal, he said.
But Alvarez clarified that he would not go so far as to boot the House leaders out of the supermajority bloc. “They won’t be removed from the supermajority, just replaced in their positions,” he said in Filipino.
For the past few months, the House exerted efforts to fast-track the passage of the death penalty bill, even agreeing to limit it to just drug-related offenses to avoid running into more debate regarding which crimes are heinous.
“Because it’s controversial, we made the punishable offenses few. What we’ll do is pass it one by one,” Alvarez told reporters in an interview.
“We don’t need all of it at once. But, we might pass the others maybe at the end,” he said.
While this move ensures that at least one crime is punishable by death penalty, Alvarez acknowledged that the inclusion of other offenses might be “somewhat slow” because these would have to be debated one by one.
Yet, he said tackling the original bill that reinstates the death penalty for several heinous crimes at once would have taken more time to debate.
“We have to be realistic,” Alvarez said.
For his part, Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Rep. Mark Aeron Sambar of the supermajority bloc said it was still possible for the Senate to bring back the other offenses when it tackled its own version of the bill.
“We’re getting ahead of ourselves. We just have to wait for what they (Senate) decide,” he said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan forum.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a Magnificent Seven bloc member, said that with the death penalty bill up for approval on third and final reading, the roll call vote would finally reveal which lawmakers have approved or rejected the measure.
“The roll call vote or nominal voting will reveal the identities of those with courage and will to defy the House leaderships agenda for the final passage of the bill and those who may have succumbed to intimidation and pressures from House leaders,” Lagman said in a statement.
He also dared Alvarez to “make good on his threat to strip defying members of their committee chairmanship and deputy speaker positions.”
“Speaker Alvarez has no alternative but to consummate his planned reprisal, otherwise no one will believe him when he wields again the Sword of Damocles in the plenary consideration of other administration measures,” Lagman said.
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