Duterte 'thankful' House passed death penalty bill – Alvarez
MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his gratitude to the House of Representatives for passing the death penalty bill, a part of the Chief Executive's legislative agenda.
Alvarez, however, said Duterte was hoping that plunder and rape were not taken out of the list of crimes punishable with either life imprisonment or death under House Bill Number 4727. (READ: Death for drug convicts: House passes bill on final reading)
"He's thankful that it was passed even if it only included illegal drugs. But he also said he wished plunder and rape were included. This holds especially true for rape with homicide and the abuse of children, like the ones we see on YouTube on the abuse of an 8-year-old child," Alvarez, speaking in Filipino, told reporters on Wednesday, March 8.
The Speaker met with Duterte, his longtime friend and ally, in Malacañang on Tuesday evening, the same night 217 congressmen approved HB 4727. Only 54 lawmakers voted against the bill while one abstained. (LIST: How congressmen and women voted on the death penalty bill)
For the President, the death penalty bill will serve as retribution for the victims of heinous crimes. (READ: An eye for an eye: Can the death penalty bring justice to victims?)
HB 4727 gives judges the option to punish the perpetrators of the following drug-related offenses with life imprisonment or death:
- 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
- Qualifying aggravating circumstances in the commission of a crime by an offender under the influence 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
The bill's original versions contained 21 crimes, but Alvarez said they removed the other offenses – like plunder, rape, and treason – because it is "realistic" to do so if the House wanted to produce output before the end of the 17th Congress' first regular session.
In a separate interview with dzMM, Alvarez said it is possible that other crimes may be included in the death penalty bill once it reaches the Senate as well as the bicameral conference committee.
"Sabi ko naman, magsisinungaling naman ako kung sabihin ko walang possibility. Andidiyan 'yung possibility dahil sa bicam naman, puwedeng mayroong kaunting adjustment sa panukalang batas," said Alvarez.
(I said I'd be lying if I said there's no possibility. There is the possibility that, at the bicam, there will be adjustments made to the bill.)
"Ngayon, ito may proseso, at kailangang aayunan din ito ng both members ng both Houses (This involves a process that must be agreed to by members of both Houses)," he added.
The bill is expected to be challenged at the Senate. Pro-death penalty senators, however, are trying to push for a version of the measure reimposing the death penalty only on high-level drug trafficking cases. (READ: Pimentel on death penalty: 'Close fight' in the Senate) – Rappler.com