THE death penalty is dead.
That was said by Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon as he explained that the Senate by a two-third vote had ratified a treaty commitment signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"Namatay po ang death penalty dahilan sa maliwanag naman na hindi natin pwedeng maibalik yung parusang pagpatay dahilan sa ating treaty commitment," Drilon said referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
He said the treaty after it had been ratified by the Senate had become part of the basic law of the land.
"Doon po ay bawal maibalik ang death penalty kaya hindi ko alam kung paano i-justify na ipapasa ang death penalty bill in the face of this clear international treaty obligation that we cannot impose the death penalty domestically," he said.
There are repercussions, according to Drilon, such as denial of preferential trade treatment by other countries.
Drilon said that the European Union grants preferential or no tariffs to Philippine exports to the EU under the General System of Preference.
"Now if we violate our international treaty then could be reviewed and that can be the basis for withdrawing the benefits. But more importantly we will be isolated from the international community, because we cannot even be trusted to honor our treaty obligation," Drilon said.
For the death penalty to be restored, Drilon said that the Senate must concur in withdrawing from the treaties that do not allow it to be restored.
"But again that is questionable. That is part of the law of the land; that is part of our Constitution now," he said.
Drilon noted that Senator Richard Gordon and Senator Panfilo Lacson agreed that the international treaty entered into previously by the government has barred the restoration of the death penalty and discussing it is practically useless.
Drilon further explained that the treaty entered into by the state does not have a process of withdrawing from it.
"The ability to withdraw is something that is not a settled question because there is no process of withdrawal in this particular treaty. Unlike other treaties that giving a notice is an effective way of withdrawing, in this particular case there is no provision that allows the withdrawal. Iyon ang problema," he said.
Drilon said that Congress can pass a law on the death penalty but that will be a violation of the country's international treaty obligation, which imply consequences.
Two Senate panels on Tuesday began its first public hearing on several bills, which seek to reimpose death penalty in the country, at the same time the stiffer imposition of penalties against heinous crimes.
The committee on justice chaired by Justice and Human Rights chaired by Gordon and the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes led by Drilon conducted the hearing to be able to gather various opinions on the controversial death penalty.
But at the same time, Gordon said there is nothing to talk about if the treaty entered by former President Arroyo, which has become part of the Constitution does not allow for the restoration of the death penalty.
(Video by Al Padilla)
Senators belonging to the Liberal Party including Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV have from the start made known their anti-death penalty stance.
Those pushing for the death penalty include Senators Manny Pacquiao, Vicente Sotto III, Lacson and Sherwin Gatchalian.
Those invited to shed light include the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Amnesty International and Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Among the bills being tackled in the hearing are:
• Senate Bill no. 4 or An Act Imposing Death Penalty in the Philippines introduced by Senator Vicente Sotto III
• Senate Bill no. 42 or An Act Re-Instituting the Death Penalty in the Philippines introduced by Senator Panfilo Lacson
• Senate Bill no. 185 or An Act to Impose the Death Penalty and Increased Penalties on Certain Heinous Crimes Involving Dangerous Drugs, Amending for that Purpose Other Special Penal Laws, and for Other Purposes introduced by Senator Manny Pacquiao
• Senate Bill no. 186 or An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on the Heinous Crime of Kidnapping, Amending for that Purpose that the Revised Penal Laws, as Amended, and for Other Purposes introduced by Senator Manny Pacquiao
• Senate Bill no. 187 or An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on the Heinous Crime of Aggravated Rape, Amending for that Purpose the Revised Penal Laws as Amended and for Other Purposes introduced by Senator Manny Pacquiao
• Senate Bill no. 368 or An Act Punishing Extraordinary Heinous Crimes with the Penalty of Qualified Reclusion Perpetua, thereby Amending Republic Act No. 9346 otherwise known as An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines and for other purposes introduced by Senator Leila de Lima
• Senate Bill no. 985 or An Act Allowing the Imposition of the Death Penalty for Heinous Crimes Involving Child Trafficking, Exploitation, Prostitution, Pornography, and Rape introduced by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian