Lawmakers still proposing amendments to the death penalty bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Some members of the House of Representatives seem bent on slowing down the passage of the proposed measure to restore capital punishment in the country.

Some lawmakers are still proposing amendments to the bill — even after several caucuses with the majority bloc, and the House leadership repeatedly saying that it's a priority bill.

Among the amendments which have already been put forward are of those from Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman, and Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin.

Lagman proposed to remove the words "to death" after the phrase "reclusion perpetua." Lagman explained, the 1998 United Nations Drug Convention does not prescribe death penalty to drug offenses.

He also noted that under the international convention on civil and political rights — where Philippines is a state party — the country committed not to impose the death penalty.

Bill sponsor, Committee on Justice chairman Reynaldo Umali, however, rejected these amendments. 

Similarly, Villarin proposed to remove the phrase "reclusion perpetua to death penalty" from the bill.

The amendnment was likewise rejected.

Anti death penalty congressmen previously said, if they cant block the passage of the measure they will try to water it down as much as they can.

Earlier, Kabyaan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque expressed his intention to put a sunset provision to the bill.

In case the bill becomes law, such an amendment would limit the law's effectivity until June 30,2022, when the Duterte administration's term ends.

He also wants to limit the mode of execution to only lethal injection — and remove hanging and firing squad from the options.

After the period of amendments, the lower chamber will put to vote the death penalty bill for its passage on second reading.

The vote on second reading is done via "viva voce" vote or voice vote of ayes and nays — those who are in favor of the bill will say "aye," while those who are not will say "nay."

If lawmakers are not convinced of the results, a member may move for nominal voting, where each member will be allowed to explain his/her vote.  This motion should be approved by one-fifth of the actual number of members present in the plenary.

Nominal voting is also subject to the approval of the presiding officer.

Anti-death penalty congressmen have repeatedly tried to move for a nominal voting in various instances during the period of debates and period of amendments — but all motions were lost.

To finally pass the proposed bill at the House of Representatives, it needs to get the vote of the majority — or 50 percent plus one — of the members present in the plenary.

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please refresh page for updates.