MUNTINLUPA City Representative Ruffy Biazon on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, asked the House committee on justice to defer consideration of his death penalty bill as the country is still in the thick of battle against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The House committee on justice started hearing Wednesday the bills seeking to restore capital punishment in the Philippines.
The panel opened the debate after President Rodrigo Duterte called for the swift passage of measures seeking to revive death penalty by lethal injection for drug-related crimes.
In a letter addressed to the House committee on justice chairman and Leyte 3rd District Representative Vicente "Ching" S.E. Veloso lll, Biazon said that now is not the time to discuss his House Bill no. 741 which seeks to restore death penalty for drug trafficking.
“I would like to thank the chair for the opportunity for this bill to be discussed for possible consolidation along with other bills of similar purpose, However, this representation would like to request that HB 741 be excluded from the agenda,” his letter read.
One of the reasons, Biazon said, was the lack of timing for a “passionate and intense” debate.
“I have reservations on the timing of the tackling of the death penalty bills during the height of the pandemic. Government is still in the thick of a fight against the virus which seems to be on an escalation,” he said.
The lawmaker said that debates on death penalty is an “unnecessary distraction” in the effort to consolidate public and private sector support for and focus on the pandemic.
““A socially and politically divisive debate on the death penalty will be detrimental to the Heal as One mantra. The public expects Congress to give priority measures that directly address the public health emergency we are currently facing,” he said.
Biazon said that there should be a venue where lawmakers and concerned sectors could discuss the bills without constraint.
“I believe that the venue for discussing that policy should not be constrained, which in my view, is the environment provided by the online proceedings that we have been experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic” the lawmaker said.
Biazon said he remains firm in his decision to back the revival of death penalty.
“I believe that there is a time for everything even in legislation-- I believe there is still time for the consideration of the bill after the pandemic has been placed under control or has died down,” he said.
Because of the deferment of his bill, Biazon won't be included in the list of authors of a consolidated bill.
Death penalty was abolished in June 2006, through Republic Act (RA) No. 9346. (SunStar Philippines)