Over death penalty, summary killings
AN official of the European Union (EU) on Friday warned that the 28-nation bloc could trigger a review of trade agreements with the Philippines if a death penalty bill hurdles Congress, and if summary killings continue unabated.
“We are concerned about some of the issues here in the Philippines: the reinstatement of the death penalty, also the extrajudicial killings and the proposal to lower the judicial responsibility age to nine years – and these are also some of the concerns that we have conveyed to our partners here in the Philippines,” European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told reporters at the sidelines of a busines s forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the EU at Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
Particularly at stake is the duty-free access of Philippine goods to the EU through the Generalized System of Preferences Plus or GSP+ program.
“We have, right now, an agreement between us called GSP+ which opens up good trade possibilities, but it is also subject to certain measures … We’re discussing this with our partners,” Malmström said.
The GSP+ agreement grants the Philippines zero duties on 6,274 locally made products.
The EU parliament last year warned President Rodrigo Duterte to stop killings connected to his war on drugs. Duterte responded by cursing the EU, and saying Philippines could do without EU investments.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed House Bill Number 4727 or the death penalty bill on third reading. However, the measure is expected to encounter heavy opposition from senators, who are concerned the country would violate treaty obligations to abolish capital punishment.
Duterte wants rape with homicide covered by bill
The President on Thursday said he wanted rape with homicide included among the heinous crimes punishable by death penalty.
Speaking to reporters in Davao City, Duterte said a death penalty bill that excludes plunder and rape would be insufficient.
“It (bill) is not enough. Rape with homicide, you get raped and then killed, or raped then they steal your money, then they kill you,” he said. “Heinous crime. It’s a heinous crime,” the President added.
Duterte confirmed that he met with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd in Malacañang Tuesday night after the bill passed on third reading in the House.
The President said Alvarez explained that lawmakers could not reach a consensus on whether rape and plunder should be on the list of heinous crimes.
“Yes, they reported to me the vote of the House at that time, which prevailed,” Duterte said. “They could not agree among themselves. Obviously, because of the votes…so let them solve [the issue on their own],” he added.
Earlier, Duterte said he wanted to know the “rationale” for the exclusion of plunder and rape from the list of offenses punishable by death.
The House bill has been amended to limit its coverage to drug manufacturing and trading, to support the administration’s bloody narcotics crackdown that has claimed over 7,000 lives.
The measure passed on third reading excluded plunder, rape and treason from the list of offenses punishable by death.
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE