Umali eyes passage of death penalty bill before Congress adjourns in June 3

MANILA — House of Representatives justice committee chair Reynaldo Umali said on Monday the bill that seeks to restore death penalty will likely be approved before the end of the first regular session of 17th Congress on June 3.

In a press conference, Umali said the death penalty bill, a priority measure of the Duterte administration, is an important reform to pursue in overhauling the criminal justice system of the country.

“More importantly in my own sense, this is the part and parcel of the criminal justice system reforms that we would like to pursue and the death penalty will surely be a factor in strengthening or enhancing the criminal justice system,” he said.

Umali shared that he was once against capital punishment, but he saw the need for its reimposition after his committee conducted its hearing on the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison last September.

“I am now in favor of death penalty on drug-related heinous crimes,” said Umali.

The Mindoro Oriental lawmaker said the lower chamber will still have to work on the contentious measure “regardless of what action Senate will take on the bill”.

Under the proposed measure, the heinous crimes for which the death penalty will be imposed include trafficking in illegal drugs, arson, treason, murder, rape, kidnapping, and carnapping.

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

The imposition of death penalty has been suspended since 2006 with the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346, or “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines.”

However, President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly declared that he wanted capital punishment reimposed on heinous crimes, especially on criminals involved in drug-trafficking.

Apart from the death penalty bill, Umali also hopes that the measure seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to nine years old will also be approved for third reading before Congress concludes its regular session in June.