House ends death penalty debates ahead of schedule

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The substitute bill states the death sentence may be carried out either by hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The House of Representatives ended the plenary debates on the revival of the death penalty Wednesday evening after seven session days and hearing only seven of the 25 lawmakers who wanted to interpellate the bill's sponsor.

In closing the debates, House Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondoc cited House Rule Section 54 which stated that the debate could be closed after three speeches in favor and two against.

The period of sponsorship and debates began February 1 and was originally expected to last until the end of the month or early March.

The voting is now set on Tuesday, February 28, instead of the initial schedule of March 8.

Related: Drilon: Death penalty debate faces difficulty in Senate

After the termination of the debates, the period of amendments was opened and a substitute bill was adopted after a viva voce vote or voting by saying ayes and nays.

Those against the bill repeatedly raised point of orders by citing irregularities in parliamentary procedure.

Bill critics also repeatedly questioned the presence of quorum.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman also insisted that the substitute bill was invalid and illegal because it was not approved by the Justice committee.

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza also asked for a nominal voting after the viva voce vote on the substitute bill because he insisted the voices of those against were louder.

However, presiding officer Sharon Garin rejected all motions of the opposition.

Substitute bill

The substitute bill, composed of amendments agreed upon by the majority bloc, lists down four crimes punishable by death.

  • treason
  • plunder
  • rape with homicide, rape of a minor, and rape committed by law enforcement officers
  • drug-related crimes, such as the importation, sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, transportation, manufacture of dangerous drugs and maintenance of a drug den

Possession of drugs has been removed from the list of crimes punishable by death, as well as carnapping, kidnapping, and qualified bribery.

The substitute bill says the death sentence may be carried out either by hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.

It also has safeguards to ensure the rights of the accused: like requiring the provincial or city prosecutor to furnish copies of the information of a case involving a heinous crime to the Commission on Human Rights, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Free Legal Assistance Group.

The bill also requires the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) to convene a special panel to conduct a thorough review of the case once a judgment of conviction with a penalty of death has been rendered by a Regional Trial Court. The OSG and PAO may also recommend to the Office of the President the suspension of the execution.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.