Congressmen’s compromise: No mandatory penalty of death in bill

Mara Cepeda
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas says majority congressmen agreed to give judges the option to punish perpetrators of heinous crimes with either life imprisonment or death

COMPROMISE. House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas says majority congressmen have agreed to input several changes in the death penalty bill. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said congressmen allied with the administration have agreed to remove the provisions making the death penalty a mandatory punishment under House Bill (HB) Number 4727.

The majority congressmen instead opted to give judges the option to indict perpetrators of heinous crimes with reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, up to capital punishment. 

“What was agreed upon is there will be no more penalty of mandatory death. There will be no offense where the penalty is mandatory death, but reclusion perpetua to death,” said Fariñas in a mix of English and Filipino on Wednesday, February 8.

So giving the option to the judge in cases nga of heinous crimes, kung talaga ngang napakabigat, puwede niyang i-impose ‘yung death penalty (So giving the option to the judge that in cases of heinous crimes, if they’re really heavy, he can choose to impose the death penalty),” added the Ilocos Norte 1st district Representative. 

The House leadership had met with the more than 250 majority lawmakers on Wednesday afternoon to discuss their stand on HB 4727, which seeks to penalize 21 heinous crimes with death. (READ: Return of death penalty will fix faulty justice system – lawmakers

Fariñas also said the number of crimes listed in HB 4727 will be reduced, but he refused to indicate which among the following heinous crimes listed in the bill will be removed:

  • Treason
  • Qualified piracy
  • Qualified bribery
  • Parricide
  • Murder
  • Infanticide
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping and serious illegal detention
  • Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons
  • Destructive arson
  • Plunder
  • Importation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
  • Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
  • Maintenance of a drug den, dive, or resort
  • Manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
  • Possession of dangerous drugs
  • Cultivation or culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs or are sources thereof
  • Unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs
  • Criminal liability of a public officer or employee for misappropriation, misapplication, or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment including the proceeds or properties obtained from the unlawful act committed
  • Criminal liability for planting evidence concerning illegal drugs
  • Carnapping 

Fariñas said the changes in the list of heinous crimes will be reflected once the substitute bill for HB 4727 is drafted.

The measure is currently up for debate in the plenary, where about 50 anti-death penalty lawmakers are expected to interpellate the bill’s sponsors. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.