House might vote on death penalty bill ahead of schedule

LAWMAKERS could vote next week for the passage of the death penalty bill, if the opposition fails to maintain a quorum in plenary sessions.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said voting for the bill for a second reading could be done on February 28, a week ahead of its March 8 schedule.

"If they cannot maintain quorum to listen to them by Wednesday, wala na, what’s the point in going on with the debates? I-a-advance na namin ‘yung botohan ng February 28, Tuesday," he said.

Earlier last week, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez denied accusations that they are fast-tracking the passage of House Bill no. 4727, which seeks to reimpose capital punishment for heinous crimes.

He said they've been going over it since last year.

"Ang tagal na ng binigay natin [na oras]. Isipin ninyo, ifinile iyan noong pang last year, pagbukas ng Kongreso. Hindi mabilis 'yon," Pantaleon said.

The House Majority is also keen to pass the death penalty bill on the third and final reading by March 15.

Meanwhile, Fariñas also disclosed that congressmen reached a consensus to whittle down the crimes covered by the death penalty bill to three.

He said the crimes punishable by death will only include plunder, treason, and drug-related offenses, except drug possession.

"Ang napagkasunduan we whittle it down to a minimum number of offenses muna so three. Drug related offenses and then plunder and then treason. Yun yung compelling reasons muna," Farinas said.

He explained that offenses like rape could be included once the Senate had already pass their bill.

"Kami ang posisyon ni Speaker (Alvarez), whittle natin sa bare minimum, tingnan natin kung papasa sa Senate kasi if we include so many offenses and maski isa di papasa sa Senate."

Previously, Alvarez said that plunder will be dropped from the list but after Monday's caucus, they kept it included in the bill. (SunStar Philippines)
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