"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Philippines: Death penalty may be here by Oct - Koko

Duterte election
There is big chance for the Senate to pass a measure that would pave way for the revival of the death penalty in the country, and presumptive Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel 3rd expects to have it passed by October this year.

According to Pimentel, the proposal seeking to reimpose capital punishment is set to be filed on July 25, the opening of the first legislative session of the 17th Congress, and have it referred to the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

The committee will then conduct a series of consultations and public hearings by August, introduced it to the plenary by September and pass it on 3rd and final reading by October.

"Theoretically, Yes," Pimentel said, when asked if it is possible for the Senate to pass the death penalty proposal in 3 months.

The reimposition of the death penalty is one of the priority measures of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte, in a recent news conference, said he would ask lawmakers to approve the capital punishment for heinous crimes, such as drug-related offenses and rape.

But aside from reviving the death penalty, he wants the punishment carried out through hanging.

Incoming Sen. Panfilo Lacson in a separate text message said it is possible for the Senate to pass the proposal reimposing the capital punishment but not within the suggested timeline of Pimentel.

Also, Lacson added that he is for the revival of the death penalty but not in the manner Duterte wants it to be carried out.

He said aside from the capital punishment being inhumane, he does not want the people to witness medieval age-like executions even of the most notorious criminals.

Lacson, based on an initial list of Senate committee chairmanships released by Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd on Thursday, will be heading the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

"What I can assure them is that once the bill is referred to the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs assuming that it will be the designated committee, and again, assuming that I will chair the same, I will conduct continuous public hearings and floor deliberations until [they reach their] logical conclusion," he said.

Lacson added that the final version will depend on the issues involved and how firm his colleagues would stand on the matter.

Several lawmakers have expressed their respective positions on the issue and while some are not in favor of the death penalty, they remain open to study the proposal to revive it.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said he is willing to study the proposal but, for him, the only way to deter crimes is through "ensuring certainty of arrest and prosecution."

Sen. Ralph Recto said he is against the capital punishment.

He, however, added that he might reconsider his position if majority of his colleagues would support the proposal.

"Assuming it will be restored, I will propose it be imposed only for six years or only during the term of President Duterte," Recto said in a text message on Friday.

Outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon said the he is against the reimposition of the death penalty but he is willing to listen.

"Personally I am against it because basically, I see an imperfect justice system where errors can be committed ... I am willing to listen because there are very strong proponents on both sides. We will come to a final decision when it goes to the floor for a vote," Drilon added.

Sen. Francis Escudero, who is likely to take the Senate minority leader post in the next Congress, is against the capital punishment, noting that it fails to recognize that guilty people have the potential to change, denying them the opportunity to rejoin society.

Source: Manila Times, June 10, 2016

Chief Justice Sereno reminds Duterte: Legislation needed to restore death penalty

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday reminded President-elect Rodrigo Duterte that restoring the implementation of capital punishment or death penalty requires an act of Congress.

Sereno said this following pronouncements from the president-elect that he plans to implement this measure for heinous crimes including robbery with rape within the next 6 months, and carry out at least 50 executions a month to deter crime.

"I think our leader is realistic enough to know that the legislative process must be undertaken before he can even implement death penalty by hanging," Sereno told reporters after delivering a speech at the Supreme Court's founding anniversary.

"Let's see. Congress is soon to open, and the political will and the logic of such a move, those will be maybe evident in the months to come," she said.

Sereno assured the public that the judiciary would ensure that the constitutionally identified values of the people are upheld.

The chief justice said she was eager to "see in what way that objectives of the government within the parameters of the Constitution can be met."

Until such move from Congress to restore the death penalty is made, Sereno said the only thing the Supreme Court can do is keep mum on the matter.

"Our role only comes in when a controversy is before us. Before that, we need to, as you already know, maintain our silence," she said.

Key allies of Duterte have already expressed confidence in getting support from the legislature for his planned reforms, especially after successfully sealing alliances with several political parties to form what they termed as a "super majority" in Congress.

The incoming president's camp had claimed more than 200 of the 290-member House of Representatives are now on Duterte's side while at least 17 out of 24 senators indicated their support for the incoming administration which will take power on June 30.

Duterte's allies see the "super majority" giving a boost to Duterte's plans to shift the form of government from presidential to federal, relax restrictions on foreign ownership of certain businesses, and re-impose the death penalty for heinous crimes.

But Sereno insisted: "Until that is a law, it does not yet become a justiciable matter, and even if it becomes a law, of course, you already know the requirements before a justiciable matter ripens, is before us. Until then, we will really need to be, uh, keep our peace on this and observe."

The 1987 Constitution prohibited the death penalty but allowed Congress to reinstate it "hereafter" for "heinous crimes" making the Philippines the first Asian country to abolish capital punishment.

President Fidel V. Ramos promised during his campaign that he would support the re-introduction of the death penalty in response to increasing crime rates.

A new law, drafted by Ramos' allies in Congress, restored capital punishment by defining "heinous crimes" as everything from murder to stealing a car.

Executions resumed in 1999, starting with Leo Echegaray, who was put to death by lethal injection under the Estrada administration.

Incidentally, it was in the Echegaray case when Duterte's ally, Martin Dino, initially shot to national prominence for acting as the guardian of Echegaray's daughter and victim.

Republic Act 9346 signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2006 suspended the imposition of capital punishment.

Source: gmanetwork.com, June 10, 2016

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