Informal supermajority poll: Death penalty bill wins

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2016 05:39 PM

MANILA - Most members of the supermajority in the Lower House back the reimposition of the death penalty but would want to debate which crimes would be covered by capital punishment.

That was the result of an informal vote called by the leadership in a supermajority caucus after the Justice Committee endorsed the bill reimposing the death penalty to the plenary of the House.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas told reporters that the caucus was a free-wheeling debate, which also included a vote on whether they should have an open or secret vote on the death penalty in the caucus.

The majority of the caucus opted for an open expression.

When the vote on their support for the bill was taken, Fariñas said majority approved the notion of the death penalty but also wanted to exhaustively debate first which crimes will be covered.

"I will have to relay it to the Speaker first whatever the sentiment. Ang binigay ko lang sa inyo is the feeling of the members,” Fariñas said.

“They’re open sa botohan kanina. Mas marami ang open and in favor of the reimposition of the death penalty. Iyung against mas kokonti kaysa yung in favor. Yung undecided, mas konti."

Fariñas revealed that now that the bill has been approved by the Justice Committee, it will be sent to the Rules Committee for inclusion in the agenda for Tuesday next week.

Congress goes on Christmas recess by Thursday, but Fariñas said the holding of a special session to ensure the passage of the bill before Christmas is unlikely.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had previously expressed preference for the House to approve the bill before Christmas.

Fariñas believes today's informal vote could be an indication of the plenary vote.

He added, the final version of bill may have fewer crimes covered.

"The tendency would be to prune it down,” he said.

Fariñas explained to his colleagues that they may be accused of protecting themselves if they exclude plunder from the covered offenses.

Opponents of the death penalty said capital punishment has been proven to be an ineffective deterrent to crimes. 

President Rodrigo Duterte, who promised during the campaign to revive the death penalty, said the execution of convicted criminals is not for deterrence, but for retribution.