Leaders of the House of Representatives on Friday said they are in favor of death penalty for plunderers.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte clarified their stand after the chamber drew flak for removing plunder as one of heinous crimes punishable by the death penalty.
A plunder is committed when a public official siphons off at least P50 million worth of public funds to enrich himself or herself.
“If the minority [bloc]would want plunder covered by he death penalty, then I won’t have a problem with that,” Alvarez said in a television interview.
“The Speaker and I, among others, voted to keep plunder in the bill, but a greater majority voted to delete it. But, nothing is final, yet. The bill as it stands now still includes plunder. There has been no amendment to it, as we are still in the process of building a consensus,” Fariñas said.
The camp of Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo has thumbed down the proposed death penalty even if capital punishment will not be mandatory for eight crimes.
“The Vice President is against the death penalty, and that has been her stand from the campaign period until now that she is the Vice President. She continues to hold the same principle that the death penalty should not be restored,” Georgina Hernandez, spokesman for the Vice President, said in a radio interview.
“The Vice President is hopeful that Congress won’t restore the death penalty. She has been a human rights lawyer for so long and she believes in full conviction that everybody deserves a chance to be reformed and this is what the Vice President is pushing for, restorative justice instead of killing people,” Hernandez added.
At least two lawmakers who oppose the death penalty, Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay and Rep. Raul del Mar of Cebu, have questioned the merits of capital punishment in the House of Representatives.
At least 48 others are expected to interpellate the authors of the death penalty measure but it remains to be seen if the rest of the 48 will be allowed to question the measure.
Alvarez called on lawmakers to respect the decision of the majority.
“If the [anti-death penalty people] win, then congratulations. But if the pro- death penalty group [wins], we should respect the will of the majority,” he said.
lLANESCA T. PANTI