THE attack in Marawi City by members of the Maute terrorist group should serve as a wakeup call for lawmakers to support and speed up the passage of the bill that seeks to reinstate the death penalty, anti-crime advocates said on Monday.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said Congress should prioritize the passage of the death penalty measure and not limit it to high-level drug trafficking.
Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the VACC, noted that with the attack by the Maute Group on Marawi City, lawmakers should include rebellion, terrorism and plunder on the list of crimes penalized by death.
Jimenez noted that it would be difficult to accept if the militants that occupied some areas of Marawi City will be meted life sentence considering the severity of their crimes.
“These terrorist under our present system would only suffer life sentence if they are arrested and found guilty by the court. Worse, they could be even set free after President Rodrigo Duterte finishes his term,” the VACC head said.
He cited the cases of those who rebelled against the government like senators Antonio Trillanes 4th and Gregorio Honasan 2nd who were arrested and detained but were released later.
“It is very disappointing that those who rebel against the government and had caused death of innocent civilians were set free,” Jimenez added.
The House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading its version of the bill reinstating death penalty in March.
There are five death penalty bills pending before the Senate committee on justice and human rights chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon.
The committee conducted one hearing in February and moved to suspend the proceedings as it awaits the position of the Department of Justice on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that prohibits death penalty.
The ICCPR compels the Philippines and other signatory states to respect and observe fundamental freedoms. Among these include freedom from arbitrary deprivation of life and freedom from cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment.
A recent Pulse Asia survey showed that 67 percent of Filipinos support the reimposition of the death penalty.