House starts debate on death penalty next week

MANILA-- The House of Representatives is expected to conduct an extensive floor debate on the contentious measure reinstating death penalty starting next week, according to opposition lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Lagman revealed that Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas approached him after yesterday's session and said that the death penalty bill will be sponsored and tackled in the House plenary by Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

FariAas confirmed the schedule in a text message.

The measure is currently being discussed by the powerful House committee on rules so that it can be included in the plenary's agenda.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said the lower chamber will begin plenary deliberations on the controversial proposal this week.

Lagman reiterated his call to the House leadership to allow his colleagues to exercise a conscience vote instead of a party vote, which he considers as a "pressure vote".

"A conscience vote is necessary because this is a very important retrogressive measure where members of the House, particularly of the supermajority, should be allowed to really exercise their conscience and conviction on voting for the measure," Lagman said.

Lagman also argued that the proponents of the bill have failed to give any justification or overriding reason for the reinstatement of capital punishment as required by the Constitution.

Furthermore, the Albay lawmaker cited that the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which prescribes only life imprisonment, and not death penalty, for crimes related to drugs.

"We cannot violate our treaty commitments," Lagman stressed.

The death penalty bill already passed a major hurdle in the committee level last Dec. 7, 2016 with 12 votes on the affirmative, 6 negative votes and one abstention.

Under the proposed measure, the heinous crimes for which the death penalty will be imposed include trafficking in illegal drugs, arson, treason, murder, rape, kidnapping, and carnapping.

The mode of capital punishment could either be through hanging, by firing squad or lethal injection.

The imposition of death penalty has been suspended since 2006 with the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346, or "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines."

However, President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly declared that he wanted capital punishment reimposed on heinous crimes, especially on criminals involved in drug-trafficking. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

Related posts