Cayetano: House to prioritize COVID-19 response over death penalty bill

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano | PNA photo

HOUSE Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday, August 5, assured that addressing the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country is the priority of the House of Representatives.

According to him, while discussions on the reimposition of the death penalty is allowed, the COVID-19 pandemic would take precedence in the chamber.

Cayetano listed the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act and the “overhaul” of the Local Government Code as the House’ top priorities.

“There will be a time to debate that and when I became Speaker I promised that we will have full debates on everything but right now, Bayanihan is on our plate, and number two we will prioritize also the overhaul of the Local Government Code,” he said.

“We will also prioritize mga stimulus and how to help not only small, medium, micro-enterprises but how to have jobs, jobs, jobs. ‘Yan ang (That’s the) immediate priority and then dadating ang (the upcoming) budget hearing. I will leave it up to the committee [on Justice] to schedule it but hindi ko gustong matamaan (I don’t want to hit) right now yung (the) priorities,” he added.

CHR: No reason to revive death penalty

The House Committee on Justice on Wednesday conducted a hearing on bills pushing for the death penalty.

During the hearing, the Commission on Human Rights said there are no compelling reasons to revive the death penalty.

“The Constitution says for compelling reasons, and it is our position that there is no compelling reason to reintroduce the death penalty,” said CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit.

“In the most serious of crimes in international law, if you will have a listing of that, drugs are not found on the list. So we believe there is no compelling reason to impose the death penalty,” she added.

Gomez-Dumpit also stressed that reviving the death penalty will violate international law as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR prohibits the reintroduction of the capital punishment.

“If we go ahead and reimpose the death penalty, we will be found to be in serious breach of international law,” she said.

“It is a state obligation to be able to comply with the human rights treaties that we have acceded to or we have ratified,” she added.

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