Friday, April 28, 2017

Death Penalty Debate in the Philippines Part 2

In a previous post I wrote about the on-going death penalty debate happening in the Philippines.  The gist of the article remains true: one cannot use the Bible to speak against the death penalty.  The Bible calls for, nay demands, the death penalty in certain cases and above all, murder.  

That brings me to this:
From an initial list of 21 crimes that included rape, treason and plunder, the House leadership decided to limit death penalty to drug-related crimes and offenses. 
It reasoned that the move was meant to ensure the consensus of House members belonging to the majority. 
"We agreed that yung bill will only be limited to drug-related heinous crimes," Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House Justice committee, said in a televised interview last week.
In order to pass this bill the they removed the death penalty from heinous crimes such as murder to only drug-related crimes.  But no worries this was just to get the measure passed in the House and moved on to the Senate.
Speaker Alvarez however did not discount the possibility that the crimes originally stipulated in the bill he proposed months ago could be restored in the bill in the bicameral conference committee. 
On the possibility that the bill will be amended during the bicameral conference committee hearings, he said: “Lahat po naman posibleng mangyari yan. Depende na po sa bicam yun. Halimbawa napagkasunduan dun na ibalik yung mga natanggal, depende na po sa bicam yun. Meron namang proseso para dun.”
The whole charade is absurd and disgusting.  The House passes one bill and the Senate may add amendments and pass a completely different one? How is that not fraud.

No one can guarantee those "crimes originally stipulated in the bill" that was "proposed months ago" will "be restored in the bill in the bicameral conference committee."  It's merely a "possibility."
After getting drug-related offenses out of the way, the House of Representatives may just expand the death penalty to include more crimes on a piecemeal basis down the road. 
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday raised the possibility of filing a new death penalty bill to include plunder and rape, which were dropped to speed up consensus and fast-track the passage of the administration measure. 
For the past few months, the House exerted efforts to fast-track the passage of the death penalty bill, even agreeing to limit it to just drug-related offenses to avoid running into more debate regarding which crimes are heinous. 
“Because it’s controversial, we made the punishable offenses few. What we’ll do is pass it one by one,” Alvarez told reporters in an interview. 
“We don’t need all of it at once. But, we might pass the others maybe at the end,” he said. 
While this move ensures that at least one crime is punishable by death penalty, Alvarez acknowledged that the inclusion of other offenses might be “somewhat slow” because these would have to be debated one by one. 
Yet, he said tackling the original bill that reinstates the death penalty for several heinous crimes at once would have taken more time to debate.
“We have to be realistic,” Alvarez said.
Filipinos are often caricatured as being lazy and politically inept.  This fiasco leaves out neither one of those stereotypes. Politics takes time.  Debating bills and getting the wording right and making sure a proper law is enacted takes time. Does Speaker Alvarez not realise this?  You cannot simply railroad a bill through congress and hope you are getting the right thing. 

This is exactly what the Democrats in the USA did in 2009 with the passage of the ACA. Nancy Pelosi famously said, "We have to pass the bill so we can see what's in it."  Now Speaker Alvarez is saying, "We have to pass the bill so we can amend it later." 

How can Speaker Alvarez admit that amending the bill will take time but deny that same time to debating the bill up for consideration without coming across as one of the most double-tounged and double-minded of men?

Not only was the text of the bill itself deceitful but the method of passage was deceitful as well.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday threatened to remove those opposed to the death penalty bill from plum posts in the Duterte-controlled supermajority in Congress. 
“If you are deputy speaker, it doesn’t look good if you won’t support the administration-sponsored bill, and if you’re chairman of a committee,” Alvarez said in an interview. 
“We will replace deputy speakers who won’t support the administration bill, because it’s awkward if you’re a deputy speaker and you don’t agree with the leadership,” he said.
The House railroaded this bill through to a yes vote by threatening all who voted no with removal from their posts.  That is bullying plain and simple.
The sole purpose for having the death penalty is to punish heinous crimes, particularly and especially murder in all its manifold shapes and forms.  A death penalty bill without death as the penalty for murder is a twisted bit of legislation that has no basis in either the Bible or in reason and common sense.

The newly passed and amended death penalty bill which only lists:
  1. importation of drugs 
  2. sale of drugs 
  3. maintaining a drug den 
  4. manufacturing of drugs 
  5. committing certain crimes under the influence of drugs
  6. misappropriation of confiscated drugs by an officer
  7. planting drugs as evidence
as crimes worthy of death can be read here:

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