CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care Executive Secretary Rodolfo Diamante said anti-death penalty advocates would not give up easily if the controversial measure would be passed into law.
"We will go to the Supreme Court. We will exhaust all these legal means available because we believe that it [its reimposition] is unconstitutional. It is cruel. It is inhumane," Diamante said.
In a related development:
-- House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas said there might be no execution under the Duterte administration once the House of Representatives passed the death penalty bill, adding the execution of the 1st convict might not take place in the next 4 years because of long court proceedings.
The CBCP and advocates are now conducting studies to build a strong case against the capital punishment.
Diamante said they were considering at least 2 options on how to challenge the death penalty before SC - either through death-row convicts or through lawmakers who ratified the country's international treaty obligation against it.
Diamante said filing the objection against the reimposition of death penalty through lawmakers might be more practical since they could easily invoke the violation of the country's commitment to the United Nations' International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"The argument could be possible since the country has already signed the treaty, a senator can easily claim that he/she is affected since he/she was among those that ratified it. Therefore, they can file a case before the SC," Diamante said.
On the other hand, anti-death penalty advocates can also wait for the "test case" involving a death row convict.
"So that the case won't be dismissed, there has to be a victim. In that sense, we can do it when a person convicted and penalized with death penalty files a case to the SC and say it is unconstitutional," Diamante said.
Aside from the high court, he revealed that another plan was to bring the issue to the international community since the Philippines signed the ICCPR.
"We are seeking the opinion of the international community. The Philippines cannot simply withdraw unilaterally. It has repercussions. And the international community is very active in making pronouncements," he added.
In the House, Farinas said the death penalty bill was among the priority measures of President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said if the bill were enacted, it would not have a retroactive effect.
"...because the President has about five years and four months left, so just think how long the gestation period of a death penalty case is. It will really take time," Farinas said. MP Reps. Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela, Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar agreed with Farinas.
"That is correct because we have removed the mandatory penalty of death," Evardone said.
Paranaque Rep. Gus Tambunting also welcomed the decision of the House leadership to keep plunder in the list of heinous crimes under the death penalty bill.
"Plunder can kill. It should be included in the list of crimes punishable by the death penalty," Tambunting said.
Tambunting stressed that taking a huge some of money "intended for the benefit of the Filipino people should be made an offense punishable by death."
The House is scheduled to pass the bill on Feb. 28.
Farinas said the debates on House Bill 4727 would continue. But he said it had to be terminated if oppositors to the measure would continue to question the quorum.
After the termination of the period of interpellation, Farinas said there would be a period of amendments, in which the lawmakers could introduce their proposed changes.
From the 21 heinous crimes, the list was narrowed down to 4 offenses: plunder, treason, drug-related offenses and rape.
The proposed measure provides that the judge would be given options on which mode to carry out in imposing death: lethal injection, firing squad and hanging.
Source: Manila Standard, February 23, 2017
House ends death penalty debates ahead of schedule
The House of Representatives ended the plenary debates on the revival of the death penalty Wednesday evening - after 7 session days and hearing only 7 of the 25 lawmakers who wanted to interpellate the bill's sponsor.
In closing the debates, House Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondoc cited House Rule Section 54 which stated that the debate could be closed after 3 speeches in favor and 2 against.
The period of sponsorship and debates began February 1 - and was originally expected to last until the end of the month or early March.
The voting is now set on Tuesday, February 28, instead of the initial schedule of March 8.
After the termination of the debates, the period of amendments was opened and a substitute bill was adopted after a viva voce vote or voting by saying ayes and nays.
Those against the bill repeatedly raised point of orders by citing irregularities in parliamentary procedure.
Bill critics also repeatedly questioned the presence of quorum.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman also insisted that the substitute bill was invalid and illegal because it was not approved by the Justice committee.
Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza also asked for a nominal voting after the viva voce vote on the substitute bill because he insisted the voices of those against were louder.
However, presiding officer Sharon Garin rejected all motions of the opposition.
The substitute bill, composed of amendments agreed upon by the majority bloc, lists down 4 crimes punishable by death.
- rape with homicide, rape of a minor, and rape committed by law enforcement officers
- drug-related crimes, such as the importation, sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, transportation, manufacture of dangerous drugs and maintenance of a drug den
Possession of drugs has been removed from the list of crimes punishable by death, as well as carnapping, kidnapping, and qualified bribery.
The substitute bill says the death sentence may be carried out either by hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.
It also has safeguards to ensure the rights of the accused: like requiring the provincial or city prosecutor to furnish copies of the information of a case involving a heinous crime to the Commission on Human Rights, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Free Legal Assistance Group.
The bill also requires the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) to convene a special panel to conduct a thorough review of the case once a judgment of conviction with a penalty of death has been rendered by a Regional Trial Court. The OSG and PAO may also recommend to the Office of the President the suspension of the execution.
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