Robredo: Death penalty bill rushed to fulfill Duterte's wishes
MANILA, Philippines – The approval of the death penalty bill at the House committee level was apparently rushed to fulfill the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte, said Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday, December 8.
"Tila minadali ng Kumite ang pag-apruba sa panukalang batas na ito para lamang mapagbigyan ang kagustuhan ng Pangulo (It looks like the Committee fasttracked the approval of the bill to accede to the President's wishes)," Robredo said in a statement.
The House committee on justice approved the committee report on House Bill Number 1, a proposal to reinstate capital punishment for all heinous crimes, on Wednesday, December 7. (READ: House death penalty bill: How they voted)
It is one of the priority bills of Duterte, who has promised to revive capital punishment in the country to deter crime.
Robredo said there was no sufficient evidence or studies presented during the hearings that would support – or even refute – the claim that death penalty would be an effective deterrent against crime.
She also reminded lawmakers that the country is bound by an international pact that prevents the return of capital punishment.
"Tila nakalimutan na ng ilang miyembro ng Committee on Justice na pumirma ang ating bansa sa Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights na pinagbabawalan ang ating bansang ibalik ang death penalty," she said.
(It seems some members of the Committee on Justice forgot that the country is a signatory to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits the Philippines from reinstating the death penalty.)
Robredo said that she hopes the hurried approval of the bill won't happen in the House plenary. (READ: House to extend death penalty debates to January 2017)
"Naniniwala kami na mananaig pa rin ang diwa ng demokratikong lehislatura," the Vice President said. "Na sa pagpasa ng batas, ang kapakanan ng nakakarami ang masiyasat na isinasaalang-alang at hindi lamang ang pag-oo sa utos o kagustuhan ng iisa."
(We believe that the spirit of a democratic legislature will prevail. That in passing laws, the welfare of the public is carefully taken into consideration, and not just by saying yes to the orders or wishes of one person.)
The Vice President's criticism echoes the accusations made by minority lawmakers, who previously accused the House leadership of "railroading" the passage of the bill to meet the deadline set by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Alvarez, however, said that there is no railroading, as various sectors have been consulted.
The bill is being opposed by the Catholic Church, human rights groups, and some lawmakers. (READ: Alvarez to ostracized pro-death penalty Catholics: Change your religion)
Capital punishment was abolished under the 1987 Constitution, then reinstated during the Fidel Ramos administration in a bid to address crime. It was again abolished in 2006, under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. – Rappler.com