THERE is big chance for the Senate to pass a measure that would pave way for the revival of the death penalty in the country, and presumptive Senate President Aquilino ”Koko” Pimentel 3rd expects to have it passed by October this year.
According to Pimentel, the proposal seeking to reimpose capital punishment is set to be filed on July 25, the opening of the first legislative session of the 17th Congress, and have it referred to the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
The committee will then conduct a series of consultations and public hearings by August, introduced it to the plenary by September and pass it on third and final reading by October.
“Theoretically, Yes,” Pimentel said, when asked if it is possible for the Senate to pass the death penalty proposal in three months.
The reimposition of the death penalty is one of the priority measures of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte, in a recent news conference, said he would ask lawmakers to approve the capital punishment for heinous crimes, such as drug-related offenses and rape.
But aside from reviving the death penalty, he wants the punishment carried out through hanging.
Incoming Sen. Panfilo Lacson in a separate text message said it is possible for the Senate to pass the proposal reimposing the capital punishment but not within the suggested timeline of Pimentel.
Also, Lacson added that he is for the revival of the death penalty but not in the manner Duterte wants it to be carried out.
He said aside from the capital punishment being inhumane, he does not want the people to witness medieval age-like executions even of the most notorious criminals.
Lacson, based on an initial list of Senate committee chairmanships released by Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd on Thursday, will be heading the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
“What I can assure them is that once the bill is referred to the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs assuming that it will be the designated committee, and again, assuming that I will chair the same, I will conduct continuous public hearings and floor deliberations until [they reach their]logical conclusion,” he said.
Lacson added that the final version will depend on the issues involved and how firm his colleagues would stand on the matter.
Several lawmakers have expressed their respective positions on the issue and while some are not in favor of the death penalty, they remain open to study the proposal to revive it.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said he is willing to study the proposal but, for him, the only way to deter crimes is through “ensuring certainty of arrest and prosecution.”
Sen. Ralph Recto said he is against the capital punishment.
He, however, added that he might reconsider his position if majority of his colleagues would support the proposal.
“Assuming it will be restored, I will propose it be imposed only for six years or only during the term of President Duterte,” Recto said in a text message on Friday.
Outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon said the he is against the reimposition of the death penalty but he is willing to listen.
“Personally I am against it because basically, I see an imperfect justice system where errors can be committed… I am willing to listen because there are very strong proponents on both sides. We will come to a final decision when it goes to the floor for a vote,” Drilon added.
Sen. Francis Escudero, who is likely to take the Senate minority leader post in the next Congress, is against the capital punishment, noting that it fails to recognize that guilty people have the potential to change, denying them the opportunity to rejoin society.