PHILIPPINES: LEGISLATORS WATER DOWN DEATH PENALTY BILL
|President Rodrigo Duterte
February 13, 2017: Administration lawmakers have agreed to water down the controversial death penalty bill by drastically reducing the number of heinous crimes covered to just five from as high as 21.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of the House of Representatives admitted they agreed on the reduction to counter the increasing opposition to the bill which President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has strongly endorsed to help fight illegal drugs, rampant criminality and corruption.
“We will remove some crimes. The list of covered crimes will no longer be 21,” Alvarez disclosed following a caucus by the House “super-majority” that dominates that 293-member chamber.
He added that among the five heinous crimes to be retained in the bill included illegal drugs, kidnap for ransom, murder and rape.
Among the 21 crimes initially covered by the bill were treason, bribery, piracy, robbery, destructive arson and possession of marijuana.
But other members of the House majority raised a howl when Alvarez disclosed the exclusion of plunder from the bill due to the argument that crimes that do not result in the death of a person should not be punishable by death.
Militant lawmakers, however, pointed out that plunder should be considered a heinous crime because it “robs the poor of money for education, health and other basic services.”
Due to rising opposition, Alvarez warned that members of the super-majority who would refuse to support the bill would be removed from their positions like deputy speakers or committee chairmen. (Sources: gulftoday.ae, 13/02/2017)