THE House of Representatives Committee on Justice approved on Wednesday a bill seeking to reinstate the death penalty on “heinous crimes,” sending the measure to the plenary for deliberations.
The committee voted 12-6 with one abstention to pass the substitute death penalty bill, a consolidated version of six measures approved last week by the House Justice Sub-Committee on Judicial Reforms.
The bill lists 21 “heinous crimes”: treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, destructive arson, plunder, importation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; maintenance of a drug den, dive, or resort; manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; possession of dangerous drugs; cultivation or culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs or are sources thereof; unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs; criminal liability of a public officer or employee for misappropriation, misapplication, or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment including the proceeds or properties obtained from the unlawful act committed; criminal liability for planting evidence concerning illegal drugs; and car theft.
Several lawmakers expressed their objection to the measure before the vote, including Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao who pointed out that the Constitution provides that death penalty shall not be imposed without compelling reasons.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the lawmaker pointed out that criminality decreased after the country abolished the death penalty in 2006.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said those opposed to the death penalty wanted further deliberation. “Unfortunately we were outvoted,” he said.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao Del Norte earlier said the House would approve the measure before adjourning for the Christmas break on December 14.
But the timeframe changed as lawmakers belonging to the majority bloc, in a caucus, sought full debates before a vote.
“Full debates first,” House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte told reporters on Wednesday.
According to Fariñas’ estimates, half of the lawmakers in the supermajority who attended the caucus were in favor of the reimposition of the death penalty. The rest were either undecided (35 percent) or against it (15 percent).
The lawmaker said they won’t ask President Rodrigo Duterte to certify the bill as urgent.