By Raynan F. Javil
Posted on March 02, 2017
THE HOUSE of Representatives has approved on second reading Wednesday night a watered down version of the controversial death penalty bill, despite efforts by those opposed to capital punishment to prolong the period of individual amendments.
The chamber approved House Bill 4727, or An Act Imposing the Death Penalty on Certain Heinous Crimes through viva voce or voice voting.
The House made two roll calls last night, 229 responded in the first and 227 responded in the second, both yielding a quorum.
The approved version of the bill lists only drug-related offenses to be covered by the death penalty.
Drug-related offenses under the bill are importation, sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, transportation and manufacturing of drugs, and maintenance of a drug den.
Possession of illegal drugs will be punishable by life imprisonment.
The substitute bill that the House committee on justice approved earlier listed 21 crimes punishable by death, but this was trimmed down to four crimes — plunder, treason, rape, and drug-related crimes — and further trimmed to drug-related crimes only.
Several individual amendments were proposed for the bill, such as limiting the penalty to “reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua” on drug-related crimes instead of “reclusion perpetua to death,” as introduced by Liberal Party Rep. Edcel C. Lagman of Albay (1st district.)
Another proposal introduced by Akbayan party-list Rep. Tomasito S. Villarin was to send the bill back to the House committee on dangerous drugs, saying the committee had the authority over matters directly and principally relating to illegal and prohibited drugs.
“Now that the crimes have been reduced to drug-related ones, shouldn’t the amended substitute bill be recommitted to the Committee on Dangerous Drugs?” Mr. Villarin asked.
All proposed amendments were turned down by House justice committee chairman Reynaldo V. Umali.
House Deputy Majority Floor Leader Juan Pablo P. Bondoc moved to close the period of amendments soon after a quorum was declared on the second roll call. He motioned at once for second-reading approval.
After the bill secured second-reading approval, Mr. Bondoc sought to adjourn the session despite an appeal by lawmakers against the death penalty.
The House session, presided over by House Deputy Speaker Raneo E. Abu, adjourned at 7:34 p.m.