House Majority Bloc: Only Treason, Plunder, and drug-related crimes should be punishable by death

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Treason, plunder, and seven drug-related crimes — offenses the majority in the House of Representatives believes should be punishable by death.

A vote on the bill to restore the death penalty may happen on February 28, a week earlier than the scheduled vote on March 8, if those opposed to it cannot maintain a quorum, said Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas.

Offenses punishable by death

Fariñas said all drug-related offenses are still punishable by death except drug possession.

He added treason is included to ensure that in times of war, the country will have the loyalty of its citizens.

"Para alam ng mga tao na giving aid and comfort to the enemies is against the state and it is a heinous crime which would merit death penalty, depending on the circumstances," Fariñas said.

"Halimbawa iyong giving comfort to the enemy. Iyong tao natin, iyong citizen natin will tell where the guerillas are or where to get women that can be used for comfort and then magiging comfort women sila, mag-a-agree naman tayo na di tama iyon," he added.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Justice Committee Chairman Rey Umali earlier said the supermajority has agreed to remove plunder from the list of crimes punishable by death.

But Fariñas insists, there was no agreement to remove plunder.

Speaker Alvarez vows to include Plunder in Death penalty crimes  

Rape, kidnapping, carnapping removed

House Bill 4727 lists 21 crimes punishable by death.

The majority leader pointed out, other offenses such as rape were removed from the list to speed up passage of the measure.

"Huwag na muna kasi contentious nga. Para mas mabilis na muna, iyon na muna iyong offenses na iyon," Fariñas said.

"If we include so many offenses tapos hindi rin naman maski isa papasa sa Senate," He added.

While the death penalty bill is in an advanced stage at the House of Representatives, the Senate has suspended its hearing pending the submission of the Department of Justice's position paper on how the measure will affect human rights treaties that the country is a signatory to.

Fariñas to anti-death penalty solons: maintain quorum or we vote on the bill

Meanwhile, Fariñas said he is giving congressmen against the death penalty the burden of maintaining the quorum during plenary debates.

Otherwise, Fariñas said he will move to end the debates — and put the bill to vote on February 28.

"I will accept the ill logic of those who were moving to adjourn by claiming that we should have [quorum during debates]," Fariñas said.

"If they cannot maintain the quorum to listen to them, by Wednesday, wala na. What's the point in going for the debate? I-a-advance na namin ang botohan sa February 28, Tuesday," he added.

The majority leader explained, those in favor of the bill have already said their piece.

He argued, only those who are against the bill want to ask questions — so they should ensure quorum during the plenary.

"How can I force people to listen to their points if people have already made up their minds, they want to vote on it? That is what I ask them," said Fariñas.

"We've had quorum. The problem is nobody wants to listen to them. That's their problem and they are the ones questioning the quorum. As I said on the floor, kami na nga nagtityaga, nag-be-bend to listen to them [we're the ones exerting effort, bending to listen to them], but for them to demand that a majority of all the members should be present to listen to them, 'di naman 'ata tama iyon [it's not right],"

Some lawmakers are in favor of cutting the debates short.

Umali said arguments raised by those against capital punishment are repetitive.

"We're just prolonging the agony, pero it amounts to the same things. Unless there are new matters that will be raised, what's the use of continuing the debates," Umali said.

Abang Lingkod party-list Representative Joseph Paduano is against the bill.

But he is also against the opposition's delaying tactics.

"To use the quorum as a tool to delay the deliberation, I think it's foul and I will not support that though I will vote for no"

Angkla party-list Representative Jesulito Manalo claims the House Majority Leader can invoke his authority to stop the delaying tactics.

"In the rule of law, technicalities are important for order. But technicalities should be set aside when the substantive issue on the discussion of the matter will be affected," said Manalo.