House, Senate deadlocked over death penalty

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2017 04:41 PM


MANILA – House leaders are being asked to halt all deliberations involving the bill seeking to reimpose the death penalty in light of the move of 14 senators which could affect efforts to revive the capital punishment.

Fourteen senators on Monday filed Resolution 289 expressing the sense of the Senate that the upper chamber’s concurrence is needed in terminating any international treaty or agreement.

The Senate resolution, if adopted, could affect the wish of President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies to revive the capital punishment. 

Death penalty opponents claim the capital punishment’s revival would contravene the Second Optional Protocol on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which bans the death penalty.

The Philippines ratified the treaty during the Arroyo administration, which is when the bill abolishing the death penalty was signed into law.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, an anti-death penalty lawmaker, said efforts in the lower chamber could be wasted if the Senate would adopt the resolution.

“If the Senate would not approve [the resolution], there will be no law. If the House will disagree there would be no law,” Lagman said.

“Because of this development I’m urging the House leadership as well as the Senate leadership to meet in order to iron out this particular differences. Otherwise, we will be engaged in an exercise in futility.”

Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, a member of the so-called “Magnificent 7” opposition lawmakers, echoed Lagman’s concerns.

“I think that the House leadership, given this new development, should pause and think because in the event the Senate asserts its authority and expresses its sense and sentiment to uphold and restate our treaty commitments… the bill becomes moot and academic and all time, energy taxpayers money spent on it will be laid to waste,” Daza said.

Lagman earlier slammed the super-majority's hardline stance in campaigning for the approval of the bill at the lower chamber.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez even threatened House leaders that they will be stripped of their positions if they will vote against the bill.

"Intimidate, entice and gag constitute the trio of strategies employed by Speaker Alvarez and the majority leadership to pass by hook or by crook House Bill No. 4727 reimposing the death penalty,” Lagman said.

“Intimidation by threatening PDP-Laban members and coalition allies, particularly deputy speakers and committee chairs, with reprisals if they do not vote for the death penalty bill.”

Lagman also twitted the House leadership for agreeing to amend the bill just to get support for the measure.

House Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez on Monday said several lawmakers who were opposed to the bill reviving the death penalty apparently had a change of heart.

Hernandez said the removal of certain provisions making the imposition of the death penalty mandatory appears to have changed the minds of several lawmakers.

“As long as any crime is punishable by death and the maximum penalty is still death, the watered down bill is no less repugnant to the inviolability of life and contrary to genuine justice,” Lagman said.

Waxing poetic, Daza said, "A rose by any other name smells sweet pero dito sa H 4727 notwithstanding all of these efforts to soften it make it more palatable death penalty pa rin yan. Death penalty by any other name still stinks, di ba."

Lagman also protested the super-majority's decision to limit the time of interpellation for every lawmaker during the death penalty debates.

"In committee deliberations, it is well settled that the time allotted for an interpellator does not include the time consumed by the Chair, a Member or a guest responding to the questions."

He also slammed the decision of the super-majority to calendar the bill for a vote in March. He said this is an indication that there will be no full debate.