Yasay defends move to revive death penalty
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2017 - 11:20pm

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto  Yasay Jr. defended yesterday the move to reinstate the death penalty, saying nobody from outside should interfere in the domestic decision if it would be approved by Congress.

Yasay said he was not too sure about British Ambassador Asif Ahmad’s expression of his views on the revival of the death penalty in the country, but he pointed out that the envoy could be commenting in the context of their own experience in the United Kingdom.

The abolition of the death penalty, he said, has in fact encouraged hardened and ruthless criminals like drug lords, murderers, terrorists and syndicates “to capitalize on that weakness that we have shown.” 

“And it is for this reason that I think to deliberate once and for all whether it is in the paramount national interest to reinstate the death penalty (is necessary) and if it (Congress) so decides, nobody… especially somebody outside of our country, can interfere with that domestic decision,” Yasay told reporters. 

Although treaties have the same force and effect of laws, Yasay explained that the Constitution mandates Congress with a duty to deliberate on the death penalty.

“It (Congress) has not made a final decision on it as yet. It is premature. Let us see and find out the true justification why the death penalty if at all it will be imposed,” he added.

Ahmad said reinstating the death penalty is a tragic reversal of upholding the right to life that would demonstrate the Philippines could easily walk away from international treaties and legal obligations.

The Philippines is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR on the abolition of the death penalty.

Railroaded?

The House will vote on the bill re-imposing the death penalty on Tuesday, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said yesterday.

He said members have until Monday to present proposed amendments to the revised version of Bill 4727, which reflects the reduction of the original 21 covered crimes to only four.        

He shared the confidence of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that their majority coalition would be able to muster the votes needed to approve the measure on second reading on Tuesday.

On Wednesday night, the House terminated the period of debates despite objections from those opposed to capital punishment. It also closed the period for committee amendments after the committee on justice presented its revised version of the bill.        

During the session, the presiding officer, deputy speaker and Rep. Sharon Garin of Aambis-OWA, and acting majority leader Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc of Pampanga, ignored insistent interventions by members against death penalty.

The revised version includes only four crimes – treason, plunder, certain drug-related crimes like importation, sale, trading, manufacture or distribution of dangerous drugs, maintenance of a den for illicit drugs and rape cases such as rape with homicide, rape of a minor and rape committed by law enforcement officers.   – With Jess Diaz, Gilbert Bayoran      

PERFECTO YASAY JR
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