ONE of the authors of the death penalty bill in the House of Representatives wants four more crimes to be punishable by death: plunder, human trafficking, economic sabotage and illegal recruitment.
Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro of Capiz made the push after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr. of Davao del Norte took back his pronouncement that the death penalty measure would be approved by Christmas. Debates on the revival of capital punishment have been moved to January 2017.
The bill seeks the death penalty on 21 crimes including drug trafficking, murder, rape, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, bribery, parricide, infanticide, destructive arson, piracy, and treason among others.
“This number is still too low for me. Our nation is fed up with investigations being done left and right. We are always on discourse, debates, but nothing has changed. We should look at adding illegal recruitment, human trafficking, economic sabotage…plunder,” Castro, a lawyer, said in an interview.
“Look at illegal recruitment alone. It destroys the lives of families. Imagine all your properties and assets that you worked hard for and yet you end up hungry and poor because of illegal recruitment,” he added.
Castro said human traffickers also deserve the death penalty because they abet prostitution and child slavery, among others.
“Crimes which victimize a lot of people should be punishable by death. Without penalty, these criminals will just enjoy life as if nothing happened. For one, those who swindle people have expensive cars. We should teach them a lesson,” the lawmaker said.
Castro, however, was mum on whether the House has enough numbers to pass the measure into law. The Catholic Church has vowed to oppose the bill.
“It is just a matter of preparing for the debate. I would really stand up in the plenary for this. We are also preparing to go against the brilliant interpellators in the Senate,” Castro said.
Speaker Alvarez said last week that the death penalty bill, a priority measure of the Duterte administration, could face an uphill climb in the Senate because at least nine Liberal Party senators were against it.
‘Obstruction of justice’
For Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza of the pro-life Buhay party-list, restoring the death penalty will obstruct the delivery of justice as it will force crime suspects to flee the country.
“Once Congress restores the death penalty, we could lose the ability to bring home and prosecute drug lords, plunderers, embezzlers and even murderers who have slipped out of the country,” Atienza said.
Atienza cited the case of China, which imposes the death penalty, and where authorities have been unable to put on trial corrupt officials who have escaped to Europe, Australia, Canada and other places.
“There are countries that consider it their duty to protect the right to life of every human being. Their governments won’t expose people, regardless of citizenship or race, to the threat of potential death verdicts,” Atienza added.