ALL provisions containing the words “death penalty” will be deleted from House Bill 8909 before it is presented again for second and third reading approval.
This is according to Majority Leader Fred Castro as he confirmed that it was Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who ordered the recall of the bill due to the provisions allowing death penalty as maximum punishment in drug related cases.
It was during Arroyo’s presidency that the Death Penalty Law was scrapped. Speaker Arroyo did not vote either on a measure reimposing death penalty that was passed on final reading two years ago in the House of Representatives.
Castro said HB 8909 will be reverted for second reading approval as soon as it has been cleansed of all death penalty references.
Passed on final reading last Monday HB 8909, which sought to amend Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, reimposed the death penalty, this time imposing capital punishment for persons found in possession of dangerous drugs during parties, social gatherings and meetings.
“We decided to reconsider final reading approval in order to clarify provisions of the bill that refer to the death penalty. This will prevent double or multiple interpretations of the death penalty provisions that might mislead Filipinos into believing that death sentence has been restored,” Castro said.
Castro pointed out that even if the bill is passed in its original form, the death penalty provisions will still not be implemented unless Congress passes a law that restores death as capital punishment.
The House leader said that the bill will be substituted with another measure that contains no death penalty provision and will be presented for second reading and third reading immediately.
“In order to be clear, we are going to amend by substitution, erasing all provisions that refer to death penalty. We have to be categorical that the maximum penalty to be imposed is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,” Castro said.
The bill intends to amend the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that revived capital punishment.
The Monday plenary voting result was 172 affirmative and zero negative for approval of the measure on third and final reading.
Makabayan bloc leaders Reps. Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers Partylist) and Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Partylist) admitted they were not aware House Bill 8909 proposing amendments to Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 contained a provision restoring the death sentence in the country’s penal system.