Saturday, March 4, 2017

Atienza to bring death penalty issue to Supreme Court

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An opposition leader vowed to question in the Supreme Court the Death Penalty Bill once it is passed in the Senate.

Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said if they cannot stop the passage of the measure they will question the legality before the High Tribunal.

“If the Senate approves this bill, then we will have no recourse but to go to the Supreme Court for a definitive ruling on the matter. This is a question of law— does this law take precedence over an international covenant that our country is a party to?” Atienza said.

The House leader said the bill is fraught with legal and constitutional questions that have remained unanswered.

“The Constitution states that there should be a compelling reason to justify the re-imposition of the death penalty. Eh bakit ba lumalala ang drug problem? Kasi kasama ang pulis sa problema. Ang Presidente ang nagsabi na ang pulis ay corrupt to the core. Then the solution should be to reform the police and our criminal justice system,” Atienza added.

House Bill 4727, which was passed on second reading, is a watered down version that would give any judge the discretion to decide whether the sentence will be life imprisonment or death.

Atienza said the government should first reform the criminal justice system because the death penalty is prone to abuse by corrupt judges. 

“Ang mayayaman, magbabayad lang sa husgado eh life sentence nalang ang makukuha. Samantalang ang pobreng Juan dela Cruz na walang pang-bayad sa magaling na abugado ay masesentensyahan ng kamatayan,” Atienza stressed.

Atienza also pointed out that the Philippines is one of the first signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Such a crucial bill, Atienza said, is legislation that would affect everyone—the more reason that it should have been thoroughly discussed and debated upon. 

He questioned the hasty passage of the measure.

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