Plunder removed from crimes listed in death penalty bill

Mara Cepeda
(UPDATED) Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez says congressmen in the majority bloc have agreed to remove several other crimes from the list as well

PLUNDER REMOVED. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez says plunder is among the crimes congressmen agreed to remove under the death penalty bill. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Congressmen in the majority bloc agreed to take out plunder from the list of crimes punishable by death under controversial House Bill Number 4727.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Wednesday, February 8, that this was among the decisions made by majority congressmen during their caucus, where they also decided to remove the mandatory penalty of death provisions under HB 4727. 

“Napagkasunduan na hindi na natin gagalawin ‘yung plunder law kasi as it is, capital punishment na ‘yun (We agreed not to touch the plunder law anymore because as it is, the law is imposing the capital punishment),” Alvarez said.

Instead, judges will be given the option to punish perpetrators of heinous crimes with reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment to death, he said.

Criminals sentenced to reclusion perpetua serve a 20- to 40-year jail term, eligible for parole after 30 years.  

Through Republic Act (RA) Number 7659 signed into law by former president Fidel Ramos, RA 7080 or the plunder law was amended to punish convicted public officers with “reclusion perpetua to death” in December 1993.

But through RA 9346, the Philippines abolished death penalty in 2006 under then-president and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who remains opposed to the restoration of capital punishment.

Under RA 9346, the effects of RA 7659 and other laws, executive orders, and decrees imposing the death penalty were “hereby repealed or amended accordingly.”

Alvarez, however, said opposition lawmakers may move to restore plunder in the list of crimes under HB 4727. 

Apart from plunder, Alvarez said the congressmen agreed to remove other crimes under the bill but he could not recall them during the interview.

“Ah, hindi ko maalala, marami ‘yan eh (Ah, I can’t remember because they are many),” he said.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas also said lawmakers will remove several crimes under HB 4727, but added that he would reveal them once the substitute measure has been drafted.

Apart from plunder, the 20 other heinous crimes listed under HB 4727 in its current form are as follows:

  • Treason
  • Qualified piracy
  • Qualified bribery
  • Parricide
  • Murder
  • Infanticide
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping and serious illegal detention
  • Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons
  • Destructive arson
  • 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 

The Speaker, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, is determined to have the bill passed on 3rd and final reading before the 17th Congress takes a break on March 18.

He said House leaders will be stripped of their leadership titles if they vote against HB 4727. – 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.