Palace calls for debates on death penalty bill

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A Malacañang official has called for public debates on the proposed re-imposition of the death penalty as legislators begin tackling the issue in Congress.

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In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the proposal would need extensive consultation, to determine public sentiment.

“For those who support death penalty, you just write your congressman, your senator or you join in the public discourse. That’s part of the democratic process. There are senators who are against it and those who are not, it’s part of it. They have their own opinions,” he said.

Andanar however said the Duterte government believes the death penalty “will help discourage the criminals from doing all of these criminal activities, to deter them from doing it.”

“If the people speak out, if they participate in the debates that are being sponsored by the churches, I think the congressional leadership will listen. Of course, we are a free society, we have a market of ideas and we know as a Catholic nation there is really opposition to it (death penalty),” he added.

House Bill 4727, the bill seeking to restore capital punishment, reached the House plenary for sponsorship on Wednesday, but it was not debated upon because the session was dedicated to privilege speeches. Also, the quorum was not maintained.

The bill is a priority in the House of Representatives. It seeks to impose the death penalty on more than 20 heinous offenses, such as rape with homicide, kidnapping for ransom and arson with death.

The revival of the death penalty was a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, and he has called for the swift passage of the measure despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church and human rights groups.

The death penalty in the Philippines was abolished after the ratification of the 1987 Constitution. In 1993, Congress passed Republic Act 7659, or the Death Penalty Law, which re-imposed capital punishment.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo abolished capital punishment in June 2006 when she signed Republic Act 9346, also known as An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines.

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