Death penalty bill fails in 17th Congress, but may make a comeback

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4) — Moves to revive the death penalty failed to gain steam in the 17th Congress, with the bill stalled in the Senate.

While the House swiftly passed the bill in March 2017, it's counterpart measure remained in the Senate committee until the last session day on Tuesday. The measure reinstates capital punishment for offenses related to manufacturing and trading illegal drugs,

However, leaders of both houses believe there is a strong chance for death penalty to make a comeback in the 18th Congress.

Most of the lawmakers gunning for the House speakership are for reimposing capital punishment, while a majority of the next Senate are in favor of the same.

“In the new Senate, there’s a possibility of 13 [votes for death penalty] for high-level drug trafficking alone,” Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has said.

Aside from Sotto, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian are also in favor of death penalty.

Reelected Senators Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III all back death penalty, but only for high-level drug trafficking.

Incoming senators Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid and Ramon Bong Revilla also back the reimposition of capital punishment.

Administration allies coming in fresh in the Senate also back the proposal: Christopher “Bong” Go, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Francis Tolentino, and Imee Marcos.

Death penalty was abolished under the 1986 Constitution, but the Charter gave Congress the power to reinstate it for heinous crimes. Capital punishment returned under the administration of President Fidel Ramos, but was abolished again under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Philippines is also a signatory to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which commits countries to abolish death penalty.