House approves death penalty bill on second reading

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The death penalty bill inched closer to passing at the House of Representatives after it was approved on second reading early Wednesday evening.

The entire process moved very fast — taking only 30 seconds from the closure of the period of amendments to the passage on second reading.

After pro-death penalty congressmen won in the voice vote, anti-death solons tried, but failed, to move for nominal voting — because session was immediately adjourned after the bill was approved.

Bill sponsor and Justice committee chair Rey Umali said even if anti-death penalty lawmakers were able to move for nominal voting, they would not be able to muster enough support for the motion to prosper.

Umali added the passage of the bill was not railroaded.

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

He said critics of the death penalty were allowed to propose amendments. However, Umali said, these were just repetitions of previous arguments during the period of debates.

The Justice chair noted that opposing congressmen were only engaging in delaying tactics, which was why the House leadership opted to close the period of amendments and put the bill to a vote.

Meanwhile, anti-death representatives were not throwing in the towel yet. Albay Representative Edcel Lagmansaid they would exhaust all parliamentary means to abort a third reading. For his part, Rep. Lito Atienza said if the bill would be approved on third and final reading, they would question all of these procedures, saying these were illegal.

HB 4727 will be put to a final vote on the third reading next Wednesday. Under the rules, it is mandatory that the voting on the third reading be done via nominal voting — wherein lawmakers will be called one by one to explain their vote.

The proposed measure aims to revive the death penalty but only for drug-related crimes, except for mere possession of illegal drugs. This after treason, plunder, and rape were removed from the list of crimes punishable by death.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas and Anna Estanislao contributed to this report.