“After Duterte’s Move, House Tackles the Death Penalty Bills in the Midst of a Pandemic”

President Rodrigo Duterte

Amid a request by President Rodrigo Duterte, the House Committee on Justice on Wednesday started debating bills asking for the resumption of the death penalty for certain heinous crimes, as well as the country’s battle against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The House panel started hearings on 12 bills on the extremely divisive legislation less than two weeks after Duterte again requested Congress to reintroduce capital punishment by lethal injection for drug-related crimes in its Fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez earlier promised “a comprehensive” review of the legislation alluded to by the President in his SONA, including extremely divisive steps such as the death penalty. It is not the first time that the House has called for the re-establishment of the death penalty under the government of President Duterte. In 2017, the House passed, in the third and final reading, a bill seeking to impose capital punishment on drug-related offenses, but did not make any progress in the Senate.

Makabayan bloc legislators in the House have vowed to oppose any bill that would restore the death penalty in the country, claiming that such a law is not a deterrent to crime, but would only be used to further restrict the human rights of the Filipinos.

The nation is currently trying to tackle a coronavirus pandemic that has taken the lives of 2,115 people and has infected 112,593. The death penalty was abolished in 2006 under the government of former president and president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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