MANILA — Opponents of the death penalty bill at the Lower House on Wednesday lost their bid to put the measure to a nominal instead of a verbal vote, once the time comes for lawmakers to decide on the bill in its 2nd reading.
As this story was being written, lawmakers were debating on amendments to the bill agreed upon in the last supermajority caucus. The caucus previously agreed to limit the death penalty to offenses linked to illegal drugs, except for possession, which will continue to be penalized with reclusion perpetua.
The amendments were input wholesale instead of individually, which drew the protest of some legislators who called for each amendment to be discussed and, if needed, be put to a vote. The majority so far outvoted the opponents of the bill in verbal votes, where the individual votes of the congressmen were not known.
Traditionally, nominal voting is only done during a vote on the 3rd and final reading of a measure. According to Kabayan Party List Rep. Harry Roque, verbal or viva voce voting has been used in the past to conceal the individual votes of lawmakers, protecting them from critics.
The bill is expected to be put to a vote in a 2nd reading, coincidentally, on Ash Wednesday.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said in a statement: "The observance of Ash Wednesday must not be left unnoticed in the House of Representatives because this day signifies repentance and grief."
For Lagman, the House leadership must repent and grieve for several “transgressions” regarding the death penalty bill, including allegedly railroading its approval despite violating the “sanctity of life,” insisting on its passage despite an international treaty commitment by the Philippines not to impose capital punishment, and allegedly gagging lawmakers who opposed the bill by terminating debates early, among others.