Robredo decries 'railroading' of death penalty bill in House
MANILA, Philippines – Reiterating her strong opposition to the death penalty bill, Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday, March 8, decried the "railroading" of the controversial measure at the House of Representatives.
Speaking at a forum celebrating International Women's Day, Robredo said important measures such as the death penalty bill require lengthy, thorough deliberations.
"If we'll look into it, it was railroaded when discussed in the committee. It was also railroaded in the plenary even though there is a long list of those who wanted to interpellate authors because [of the] majority," she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Robredo, a former congresswoman, noted that the bill – a priority measure of President Rodrigo Duterte – was passed swiftly while other important bills continued to languish in the House. Among these measures is the freedom of information bill.
"Napakaraming batas, some of them I authored in the 16th Congress – freedom of information, land use bill, etcetera – hindi naipasa ng ilang Kongreso dahil mahaba iyong usapin," Robredo said.
(There are a lot of laws, some or them I authored in the 16th Congress – freedom of information, land use bill, etcetera – that have yet to be passed for several Congresses because there was a long debate.)
On Tuesday, March 7, the House passed the death penalty bill on 3rd and final reading with a vote of 217-54, with one abstention. (LIST: How congressmen and women voted on the death penalty bill)
Only 7 session days were alloted for the interpellation of the bill on the floor.
After the House passage, the fate of the bill now lies in the Senate, where chamber leaders said it would have difficulty passing since it is not a priority measure.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who was also at the forum, said that, based on her last count, there might just be "enough" votes to kill the death penalty bill in the Senate.
Hontiveros said senators opposed to the bill have enough numbers to block it.
"When the 17th Congress started, there were 7 of us who were anti-death penalty, but over the past several months, slowly our numbers rose," Hontiveros said in a mix of English and Filipino.
"If our count is still right, if no one changed position, as of today, we may have a simple majority enough to kill the bill," she added.
She also called on the urban poor leaders and members of women organizations gathered at the forum to commend the 54 lawmakers who voted against the measure. She noted that the number was more than what they expected.
Senator Richard Gordon earlier estimated that only 10 of the 24 senators favored the death penalty bill. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said a close fight over the measure loomed in the Senate. – Rappler.com
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