Despite the highly publicized passage of a bill in the House of Representatives seeking to revive death penalty, pro-life lawmakers, citing lack of material time, still do not see any judicial executions actually being carried out during President Rodrigo Duterte’s tenure.
“Even assuming the Senate caves in, and approves its version of the bill quickly, we seriously doubt there would be any judicial executions at all while President Duterte is in office,” Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list said on Thursday.
Atienza is House senior deputy minority leader and an outspoken crusader against the death penalty.
Once the bill reintroducing the death penalty is finally enacted, he said, the Department of Justice would need at least another six months to draw up a new Manual of Execution.
“And this manual will surely be challenged before the Supreme Court, without prejudice to other lawsuits [against capital punishment],” Atienza, a former three-term mayor of Manila, noted.
The House, voting 217-54 with one abstention, approved on third and final reading on Tuesday the bill restoring the death penalty either by hanging, lethal injection or firing squad.
Duterte earlier vowed daily executions once Congress revives capital punishment.
“Restore it and I will execute criminals every day, five or six. That’s for real,” he said.
“Even if we have a new capital punishment law by June, based on our projections, the initial death row inmates with final judgments won’t come in until around mid-2022, or by the end of the President’s term, without counting potential delays due to adverse lawsuits,” Atienza added.
“Considering that the President won’t get his wish anyway, the Senate should just abandon the [death penalty]bill. The best criminologists around the world have long established that the death penalty does not serve any purpose that is not already being served by prolonged imprisonment,” he said.
Atienza called for wide-ranging reforms in the criminal justice system.
“We have to ensure that every felon is apprehended, prosecuted, convicted and locked up. This is our best strategy to fight crime, to discourage other would-be offenders,” he said.
“We should now concentrate on suppressing crime by stamping out rampant corruption in law enforcement, the prosecution service, the judiciary and in prisons,” according to Atienza.
The seven convicts put to death via lethal injection during Joseph Estrada’s tenure in Malacañang were all executed some five years after they committed their offenses, he said.
Citing government records, he said Leo Echegaray, Eduardo Agbayani, Dante Piandiong, Archie Bulan, Jesus Morallos, Pablito Andan and Alex Bartolome were executed one after the other an average of 61 months after they perpetrated the crimes for which they were condemned.