Lawmakers in the House of Representatives were made to choose between two types of death – death under summary killings or death under capital punishment?
This was the question posed by justice committee chairperson Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali in his sponsorship speech at the resumption of the plenary debate on the death penalty on Tuesday night.
Umali asked his colleagues to choose between death after due process or death without due process, referring to the spate of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug criminals by masked assassins at the height of the administration’s war on drugs that has claimed over 7,000 lives already.
“Do we not see the reality that compels us to address the challenge ahead of us? Take your pick — death without due process or death after due process?” Umali said.
Umali lamented that the extrajudicial killings in the country made international news and branded the Philippines as a land governed by the rule of man, not the rule of law.
Umali said death penalty is a fitting response to addressing criminality, and an effective measure to restore respect for the law of the land.
He said restoring the capital punishment is needed to instill fear in criminals, who continue their nefarious activities even behind bars.
Umali said reimposing the death penalty would result in a “re-engineered” justice system.
“We deem it imperative that we resort to measures to ensure the interests of the greater good — those who are crying for justice,” Umali said.
“I believe the reimposition of the death penalty is a needed legislative measure as we transition to a re-engineered justice system,” he added.
Meanwhile, in his sponsorship speech, House committee vice chairperson Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso said he had wanted to impose death penalty on convicted child rapists when he was a Court of Appeals justice.
“House Bill 4727 only seeks to impart on the courts the option to penalize the offender with death penalty. Such is very important in my experience,” Veloso said.
Veloso said there is also nothing unconstitutional on the proposed death penalty reimposition under House Bill 4727 because Congress under the 1987 Constitution may reimpose it.
He slammed critics from the Catholic Church, which he said should not concern itself with the mandate of Congress to restore capital punishment on heinous crimes.
“It is not anybody’s concern, it is not the concern of the Church, that death penalty be passed. The Constitution is explicit, it is solely the concern of this Honorable body,” Veloso said.
He added that the country is not bound with its international agreements against capital punishment.
“The Philippines is not bound by any state party…because such agreements are not generally accepted principles of international law,” Veloso said.
Anti-death penalty advocate Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman earlier said the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 that prescribe life imprisonment, not death penalty./Inquirer.net