VP, lawmakers weigh in on death penalty revival

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Vice President Leni Robredo and some lawmakers voice their opinion after the House Justice Committee passed the bill on the reinstatement of the death penalty.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippines moves one step closer to the reinstatement of the death penalty after a Lower House committee okayed the bill yesterday.

With a vote of 12-6-1, members of the House Committee on Justice passed the bill, which metes out the death penalty for heinous crimes.

Heinous crimes proposed as punishable by death include treason, murder, infanticide, plunder, and activities involving illegal drugs

Following approval at the committee level, the bill goes to the House plenary next week.

Read: House panel okays death penalty bill: Plenary deliberations next week

Robredo: Rushed approval

Vice President Leni Robredo commented on the bill's passage, saying, "It seems the committee rushed the approval of the bill to accommodate the wishes of the president."

Robredo said she doesn't understand why the bill was passed by the House Committee on Justice "even though its proponents failed to show sufficient evidence and studies to support how the death penalty is deterrent to crimes."

She added the committee was also unable to adequately answer the questions of individuals who were against the bill.

In her statement released today, Robredo reminded members of the House of Representatives that the country is one of the signatories of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Read: VP Leni Robredo promises louder opposition to death penalty, extrajudicial killings

She said it "prevents our country from bringing back the death penalty."

Robredo said the country has already tried the death penalty and saw that it was not effective.

No proof

Sen. Risa Hontiveros released a statement today saying "there are no empirical proof that shows that death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime."

Hontiveros said that the reinstatement of the death penalty together with the lowering of the age of criminal liability will create "death row kids" – meaning children ending up on death row.

She said it is a "deadly combination that will condemn Filipino children to a dark and sinister future in which they will become death row kids."

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the reimposition of the death penalty "will not lead to more convictions, nor will it ensure that cases will be decided swiftly and the guilty punished. Death penalty will not address lawlessness and criminality when convictions are few and cases drag on for years."

He said that to end criminality and lawlessness, the country must modernize the justice system.

Pangilinan added, "It is swift punishment and the immediate disposition of cases pending before our courts, regardless of penalties involved, and not the reimposition of death penalty, that will restore respect for the rule of law in the country."

"Supreme of all rights"

Human Rights Commissioner Karen Dumpit said that the right to life is "supreme of all rights."

In an interview on Newsroom today, said the death penalty is "the ultimate form of torture, and the methods by which it is carried out is also a form of torture - cruel, inhuman, degrading punishment."

 

Dumpit said the country is a founding partner of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – a treaty which states that parties are committed to respect rights of individuals.