Death penalty is on the way.
PICS Courtesy: Freeimages.com
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The state of affairs in the Philippines is quite difficult to alter as discovered by the President and his allies and supporters. What might have looked a piece of cake before getting down to business is quite an uphill task.
The second reading of the proposed death Penalty Bill took place on Wednesday with it meeting with approval. This prompted the opposition to charge the government with bulldozing and dictating to the minority.
Consequently, the counter-charge by the speaker of the House of Representatives came immediately. In reply, Pantaleon Alvarez, the Speaker averred that the allegations were totally unacceptable and intolerable.
The representatives against the imposition of the bill leveled accusations of acting like puppets and bullying the minority opposition. But, the Speaker could fend off the belligerent members and push the bill through.
Moreover, the cacophony of objections and the din did not deter Alvarez from ensuring the passage of the bill. Furthermore, he reiterated that however much the opposition protested, the will of the majority would prevail.
We cannot allow any amount of tyranny to influence our duties as elected representatives, he said. The house journal would clarify the whole episode, stated Alvarez, a close confidant of President Duterte.
There were uproarious scenes and heated exchanges between the opponents and the supporters of the bill.
In addition, the speaker permitted the members to propose and get amendments done to individual clauses. Therefore, this resulted in the original bill reduced substantially in clout and application.
As a result, when the bill came up for voting, the majority vote won with an overwhelming voice vote. Thus, the 292-member house passed the bill to introduce capital punishment passed in the Philippines.
But, the members ensured one thing; that, the provisions of the bill would apply only to the severest offenses.
Thus, capital punishment was applicable to the rarest of rare cases of:
1. Maintaining a Laboratory or a drug den for consumers,
2. Selling illegal drugs, and
3. Manufacturing illegal drugs.
In all other cases, it stated, the punishment of reclusion perpetua carrying a jail term of 20 – 40 years would apply.
Thus, only major drug-related offenses would be punishable with death as per the new legislation. Twenty one heinous crimes constituted the offenses which could lead to the Death Penalty. These included Murder, Rape, Treason and Plunder.
But, in an act of accommodation to those opposed to capital punishment, they tempered the list to only relate to drug-related offenses. Yet, that is an improvement made on a subject of national importance.
Next week, there will the third and fourth readings and the Speaker is confident of garnering more than 200 votes out of 292. Even the majority leader, Rodolfo Farinas dismissed the criticism by the detractors of the Death Penalty. Farinas countered their allegations saying that they were the ones who were resorting to bullying the supporters of the penalty.
He mentioned that it was the will of the people that the Death Penalty be re-imposed. Therefore, it was their duty to fulfill the wishes of the people.
A mere handful was trying to assert their will unparliamentarily over the majority, he said. But, the majority will have its say in the end; the will of the people will prevail.
Edcel lagman, Representative from Albay deliberately resorted to delaying tactics. They sought changes to each line or each clause.
They also sought to delay the proceedings through individual voting; they demanded a roll call to prove quorum.
But, Farinas countered suggested curtailment of the period of amendments in case of paucity of time. This resulted in putting paid to the opposition attempts to prevent approval of the bill.
Thus ended the tussle for approval of the bill will make a big deterrent.
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Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson
Thursday, 02 March 2017