Senate panels begin joint public hearing on death penalty bills

MANILA-- Two Senate panels on Tuesday began its first public hearing on several bills which seek to reimpose death penalty in the Philippines and imposition of stiffer penalties against heinous crimes.

These panels are the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights led by Sen. Richard Gordon and the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes led by Senate Pres. Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon.

Both Gordon and Drilon have earlier expressed being against the imposition of death penalty in the country. However, Gordon said that they will be "neutral" for the purposes of the hearing.

All senators belonging to the Liberal Party including Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV have from the start made known they anti-death penalty stance.

Meanwhile, senators who have earlier expressed being in favor of death penalty are Senators Vicente Sotto III, Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, and Sherwin Gatchalian.

Among these bills being tackled in the hearing are:

*Senate Bill No. 4 or An Act Imposing Death Penalty in the Philippines introduced by Sen. Vicente Sotto III

*Senate Bill No. 42 or An Act Re-Instituting the Death Penalty in the Philippines introduced by Sen. Panfilo Lacson

*Senate Bill No. 185 or An Act to Impose the Death Penalty and Increased Penalties on Certain Heinous Crimes Involving Dangerous Drugs, Amending for that Purpose Other Special Penal Laws, and for Other Purposes introduced by Sen. Manny Pacquiao

*Senate Bill No. 186 or An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on the Heinous Crime of Kidnapping, Amending for that Purpose that the Revised Penal Laws, as Amended, and for Other Purposes introduced by Sen. Manny Pacquiao

*Senate Bill No. 187 or An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on the Heinous Crime of Aggravated Rape, Amending for that Purpose the Revised Penal Laws as Amended and for Other Purposes introduced by Sen. Manny Pacquiao

*Senate Bill No. 368 or An Act Punishing Extraordinary Heinous Crimes with the Penalty of Qualified Reclusion Perpetua, thereby Amending Republic Act No. 9346 otherwise known as An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines and for other purposes introduced by Sen. Leila de Lima

*Senate Bill No. 985 or An Act Allowing the Imposition of the Death Penalty for Heinous Crimes Involving Child Trafficking, Exploitation, Prostitution, Pornography, and Rape introduced by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Present in the hearing are guests from different government agencies including the Departments of Justice, Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare and Development, the Philippine National Police, Commission on Human Rights, Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Supreme Court, and Philippine Commission on Women.

Also present are from guests from the academe and non-government organizations including the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption, Amnesty International, and Integrated Bar of the Philippines among others.

The hearing is ongoing as of posting time.

In the House of Representatives, the death penalty bill has already reached plenary for deliberation after passing a major hurdle at the committee level last Dec. 7, 2016.

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

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."

The measure is one of the priority bills of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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