SEN. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday admitted that holding public hearings on the reimposition of the death penalty would be a “waste of time” since majority of his colleagues are against the revival of capital punishment.
Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, who has been assigned to head a panel under the Committee on Justice, will conduct next week a public hearing on eight pending measures reviving the death penalty since its chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, is opposed to the reimposition of capital punishment.
“Based on our informal discussion at the session hall and at the lounge, it is really difficult to get the required number to pass the death penalty bill at the Senate,” Lacson said in a media forum.
“It will be a waste of time,” he added.
Lacson suggested that the Senate should tackle bills that have the chance to be approved instead.
“If I were Sen. Pacquiao, I will first assess how many votes I will get. Do I have 12 votes to pass the Senate’s death penalty version?” he said.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd instructed Pacquiao to conduct the hearing after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez criticized the upper house for its failure to approve the death penalty bill which the lower house already passed.
But Lacson said the Senate should instead focus on the passage of the proposed national identification (ID) system and the amendments to the Dangerours Drugs Act.
The eight pending measures on death penalty revival are Senate Bills 4, 42, 185, 186, 187, 889, 985, and 1294 filed separately by Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Pacquiao, and Lacson.
Restoring the death penalty law is within the bounds of the Constitution, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo maintained on Thursday.
Panelo cited Article 3, Section 19, of the Constitution which states that “excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted” and “neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it.”
“The Constitution says it can be done. Besides, a treaty can never be superior to the Constitution,” Panelo said.
Panelo was referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which was signed by the Philippines.
“The same treaty cannot prevail over the authority of Congress under the [Philippine] Constitution to reimpose the death penalty if it determines that there are compelling reasons to penalize or prevent the commission of grievous, odious and hateful offenses that equate to heinous crimes,” he said.
Article 6 of the said covenant reads provides: “in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.”
The Philippines abolished capital punishment in 2006.