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Fariñas: House majority agreed to trim down list of crimes punishable by death

Members of the House "supermajority" on Monday agreed to trim down the list of crimes punishable by death under the proposed bill to bring back capital punishment.

According to House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, the majority decided to “whittle down” the list “to a minimum number of offenses”—drug-related crimes, plunder, and treason.

The decision — apparently the House leadership’s bid to push for Senate’s concurrence for the bill — was reached in a caucus held Monday afternoon. This is despite earlier pronouncements made by some of them, including Fariñas, who said they do “not take cues” from the Senate regarding the matter.

“Ang position ni Speaker [Pantaleon Alvarez], i-whittle na lang sa bare minimum and tingnan natin kung papasa sa Senate, kasi if we include so many offenses and maski isa ‘di pala papasa sa Senate, what’s the point?” he told reporters after the caucus.

Fariñas said rape would not be included in crimes to be retained in the bill because it’s “contentious,” but added that it would be “easy” to include it again.

Treason, plunder, drug crimes

The majority leader said treason will remain on the list because of “our challenging global situation.”

“[M]ay mga problema daw sa territories, so kailangan ‘yan para alam ng mga tao na giving aid and comfort to the enemy is against the state and is a heinous crime which would merit death penalty depending on the circumstances,” Fariñas said.

He also noted that plunder will be “maintained” in the bill, after an apparent misunderstanding about its alleged removal from the list.

However, the lawmaker said possession of dangerous drugs will be taken out, leaving seven other drug-related offenses in the list, including:

  • importation of dangerous drugs;
  • sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and/or transportation;
  • maintenance of a den, dive or resort for drug activities;
  • manufacturing of dangerous drugs;
  • cultivation or culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs, or are sources thereof;
  • unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs; and
  • criminal liability of a public officer or employee for misappropriation, misapplication, or failure to account for confiscated, seized, or surrendered dangerous drugs.

Death penalty bill in the Senate

The seeming hesitation over the measure, however, is coming notably from concerns over the Philippines’ international obligations.

Fourteen senators, or a majority, have filed a resolution “expressing the sense of the Senate” that any treaty or international agreement concurred in by the Senate cannot be terminated or abrogated without the legislative body’s approval. 

Prior to this, the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, under Sen. Richard Gordon, suspended its discussions on the bill pending comment of the Department of Justice.

DOJ’s opinion is needed regarding the Philippines’ obligation under the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

House leaders have reiterated that obligation to international treaty should not hamper the bill’s passage. —KBK, GMA News