Solon slams railroading of death penalty bill

MANILA — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Thursday slammed the alleged “railroading” of the death penalty bill which has already hurdled second reading at the House of Representatives.

“The irony of the unconscionable railroading on second reading of the death penalty bill is that the very congressional leaders who insist that the death penalty is essential for people to stop breaking the law are the very ones who violate with impunity established rules and honored traditions of the House of Representatives,” Lagman said in a statement.

Lagman said the House has mutated into a “parliament of bullies and puppets” after the contentious measure breezed through the lower chamber with the “precipitate termination” of the period of debates and amendments.

He also criticized the House leaders for “depriving” anti-death penalty lawmakers of their right to debate, which he said is the very essence of a legislature.

“The proceedings lacked transparency and accountability as most members of the supermajority voted on the cue of the majority leader and sought anonymity in the viva voce voting, even as the presiding officer was a mere pathetic adjunct of the House leadership,” Lagman said.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, for his part, said it was high time for the majority to “stand up to the bullying tactics of a few members”.

Fariñas argued that the anti-death penalty lawmakers have been frustrating the will of the majority.

“The House of Representatives exists to represent our people. The people want the death penalty reimposed as expressed thru their representatives in our caucuses and shown by them in our sessions, but a minor group against it has been bullying the majority from expressing its will,” Fariñas said.

Fariñas said the solons opposing the death penalty stalled the proceedings of the House by constantly questioning the quorum.

“How many times did they prevent themselves from supposedly expressing their views by questioning the quorum themselves? They would not want to proceed with their interpellations if the majority of the members was not present to listen to them,” Fariñas said.

The amendments proposed by Lagman to delete the penalty of death in the bill also drew the ire of the House leader.

“Yet, we all saw how those against bullied the majority by introducing amendments that were outrightly unacceptable since they were irreconcilable with the death penalty. After such were rejected, they would appeal it to the Body and demand nominal voting on every question,” Fariñas added.

Through viva voce, the lower chamber passed on second reading on Wednesday House Bill No. 4727, or an act imposing the death penalty on certain heinous crimes.

The bill seeks to repeal Republic Act 9346 that prohibits the imposition of death penalty in the Philippines. It also seeks to further amend the Revised Penal Code and the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Under the bill, the mode of capital punishment could either be through hanging, by firing squad or lethal injection.

The new version of the bill limits the crimes punishable by death to only drug-related offenses in a bid to strengthen the Duterte administration’s relentless war on drugs.

The substitute bill delists the crimes of plunder, rape, and treason from its coverage. Filane Mikee Cervantes/