VOTING 12-6-1, the House committee on justice on Wednesday approved the committee report reimposing death penalty on illegal drugs and heinous crimes in the country and expected to be passed on third and final reading in January next year.
This developed as House Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas announced the House leadership would pass the measure, principally authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, next month to allow a thorough debate on the controversial measure.
The decision to move the passage of the measure by next year, Fariñas said, was reached following a majority caucus called by Alvarez Wednesday afternoon.
“The Speaker agreed to pass the death penalty bill [on third and final reading] next year [January] after a month-long full blown debates in the plenary,” Fariñas told reporters.
He denied the House leadership succumbed to the Catholic Church pressure after backtracking from the original plan to pass the proposal on third and final reading next week before Congress goes on Christmas break.
Fariñas said the House leadership was open to limit the capital punishment applicable to illegal drugs to expedite its passage in the House of Representatives.
Alvarez, a major proponent of death penalty bill, earlier said “the death penalty bill is a priority measure of the Duterte administration. We will pass it before Christmas break.”
The House committee on justice, chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, passed the bill by a vote of 12-6.
During the hearing, administration allies led by Fariñas rallied behind the measure.
Fariñas, a co-author of the bill, said the 1987 Constitution provides that Congress could reimpose death penalty for “heinous crimes.”
Fariñas said some people were forced to take the law into their own hands because they could no longer trust the judicial system.
“What do we want [extra- judicial killing] or [judicial killing]? At least… the judicial killing goes through due process,” Farinas said.
Umali also shared Fariñas’ view, stressing the public’s response to EJK could have been “pathetic” because they were no longer trusting the justice system
Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, vice chairman of the justice committee, stressed the need for the state to reimpose death penalty to discourage habitual offenders such as rapists.
“If the one in front of you is Satan, what can the courts do? Oh my God, give the government the option of killing them,” he said.
But Reps. Edcel Lagman of Albay and Arlene Bag-ao, two of the oppositors to the death penalty bill, expressed belief there was no need for Congress to rush the passage of the measure.
Lagman said there must be “a substantial review of the laws of the State.”
Bag-ao said Congress must be able to address issues on the administration of justice in the country.
“It is no severity but the guarantee that the guilty go through the process,” Bag-ao said.