Duterte on death penalty bill: Why was rape taken out?

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President Rodrigo Duterte answers questions by the media in Cagayan de Oro on his visit to soldiers wounded in clashes with communist rebels.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A few days after the approval of the death penalty bill on second reading at the House of Representatives, President Rodrigo Duterte wondered on Friday why rape was taken out of the list of crimes punishable by death.

"I really would like to know the rationale of Congress… why is it that rape was taken out," Duterte said while in Cagayan de Oro to visit soldiers wounded in clashes with communist rebels.

He said that while he recognized the independence of the legislature, he noted that rape was one of the most heinous crimes that should merit the heaviest penalty.

House approves death penalty bill on second reading

The original draft of the death penalty bill included 21 crimes on the list, which was lowered to four after a House caucus, and then limited only to drug-related crimes when it was passed by the House on second reading on Wednesday.

House majority: Treason, plunder, rape removed from list of crimes punishable by death  

When asked if he thought the removal of plunder from the list of crimes contradicted his anti-corruption campaign, Duterte clarified he had only vowed to stop corruption — and not to kill plunderers.

He added he planned to fire out more people he couldn't trust, but he was still figuring out how to do it.

Duterte admitted Thursday that he asked his longtime friend Peter Laviña to resign as the National Irrigation Authority chief amid allegations of extortion.

Evasco: Laviña resigned to spare Duterte of corruption allegations

"Ito ang warning ko sa gobyerno. Maski direktor ka…or civil service eligible, sinabi ko sayo huminto kayo at least for six years habang andito ako sa opisina," he said.

[Translation:This is my warning. Even if you are a director…or civil service eligible, I am telling you to stop at least for six years while I am still in office.]

Umali responds

In a phone interview with CNN Philippines' Newsroom, House Justice committee chair Rep. Reynaldo Umali said the inclusion of only drug-related crimes on the list punishable by death made it easier to pass the death penalty bill.

"The rationale is we cannot seem to get a consensus of the biggest number of representatives who will join the majority," Umali said. "The whole idea is so that we can easily and better defend the requirements of the Constitution to establish compelling reason for the reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes."

He added this move would also allow the Senate to similarly pass the bill faster.

"Hopefully we can get also our Senate counterpart, which is also more inclined to only approve drug-related heinous crimes in their version of the bill, that they will push through in the Senate."

Umali also acknowledged that the bill might still see revisions upon its final approval.

"What we really intended to do was just to get a headway, get the law passed," he said. "But without prejudice to any and all amendments that will be introduced later after the law is passed if there is really the desire to increase it."

The House of Representatives will hold its third and final reading of the death penalty bill on Tuesday, March 7.