LAWMAKERS in Negros Occidental are divided on the proposed restoration of death penalty.
On Wednesday, majority members of the House of Representatives approved on second reading the proposed measure to impose capital punishment on drug-related offenses in the country.
Some of the Negrense legislators who voted “yes” were Representatives Melecio Yap Jr. (First District) and Alfredo Benitez (Third District) while against the measure was Juliet Ferrer (Fourth District).
Yap said there’s a “compelling reason” to approve the death penalty bill for drug-related cases in support of the administration’s aggressive campaign against illegal drugs.
He added that the problem on drugs is “massive and out of proportion.”
Yap, however, pointed out that the death sentence would still be up to the judge’s discretion.
“Out of 100 judges, maybe five percent of them will give a sentence of death penalty,” he added.
He also said that he is supporting death penalty for heinous crimes like murder and rape, but not in plunder as there is a lapse in the country’s legal system.
Yap said he believes that majority of the Visayan Bloc members in the House supported the bill.
The bloc’s leader, Benitez, also voted “yes” on the measure.
On the other hand, Ferrer maintained her stand against the capital punishment.
“I am against death penalty. That was my vote at the committee on justice and that will be my vote at the plenary,” she added.
House Bill 4727 is expected to be up for third and final reading on March 18, then it will be transmitted to the Senate.
The bill will not impose a mandatory death sentence as it will give the judges an option to sentence the perpetrators of drug offenses with life imprisonment or death.
Drug-related cases punishable with death or life sentence are: importation of dangerous drugs; sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs; maintenance of a den, dive or resort; manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for confiscated, seized or surrendered dangerous drugs; and planting of evidence.
Those convicted for possession of illegal drugs will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Children below 18 years old or senior citizens over 70 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime will not be sentenced with death penalty.
The mode of capital punishment could either be through hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection. (With reports from Erwin P. Nicavera)