House approves death penalty bill on third and final reading
The House of Representatives Tuesday voted 217 for, 54 against and one abstention to pass on third and final reading the proposed law reimposing death penalty on drug-related crimes.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a lawyer and secretary general of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), led the super majority in voting for the approval of the bill being advocated by President Rodrigo Duterte upon the motion of House Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc.
Alvarez said purging of allies holding key positions in the House of Representatives who voted against the death penalty bill will begin next week.
“They will be replaced,” said Alvarez who vowed to file a separate bill to include plunder and rape in the list of heinous crimes punishable by death.
Among those who voted no were Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who as president junked the death penalty in 2006, Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, chairperson of the committee on civil service and professional regulation, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato, a member of the Commission on Appointments, Bayan Muna PartylistRep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, chairman of the committee on natural resources, Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene Bag-ao as chairperson of the committee on people, ACT Partylist Rep.Antonio Tinio, chairman of the committee on public information and Buhay Partylist Rep. Mariano Michael Velarde, chairman of the committee on overseas workers affairs.
Leyte Rep. Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady, voted against the death penalty.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, who chairs the House committee on dangerous drugs, said he voted for the approval of death penalty because drugs are mainly behind the crimes in the country.
Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who chairs the House special committee on the West Philippines Sea and one of the vice chairmen of the Liberal Party (LP), voted yes.
“When the death penalty law was enacted during the time of President Fidel Ramos for a number of reasons, I voted yes. I am only being consistent with that vote I made before,” said Belmonte, a former Speaker.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a stalwart of the Magnificent 7 or the so-called Genuine Opposition who voted against the measure, vowed to bring the constitutionality of the matter at proper time before the Supreme Court (SC).
“It is not seasonable as it violates the three-day notice rule prescribed by Section 26(2) of Article VI of the Constitution,” Lagman said in a press conference.
Alvarez responded Lagman has all the right to go to the SC
From original 22 heinous crimes, the latest version of the bill seeks only to punish at least seven major drug-related offenses with reclusion perpetua or a 20-40-year jail sentence to death through firing squad, hanging and lethal injection.
The bill should not be imposed on children below 18 years old or over 70 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime and will also allow the judge the leeway to determine whether to impose death penalty or life imprisonment.
Only seven drug-related acts are punishable by death, excluding the act of carrying illegal drugs which was removed because of incidents of evidence-planting by police DMS.