All three Bohol congressmen had stood by the reimposition of death penalty up to the final votingÂ on March 7.
The death penalty bill approved by the House of Representatives had only three among the Central Visayas legislators stepping out from the crowd- -Raul del Mar of Cebu City-North District and Ramon Rocamora of Siquijor Lone DistrictÂ whoÂ voted â€œNoâ€, and Rodrigo Abellanosa of Cebu City-South District abstaining.
Boholâ€™s Rene Relampagos (1stÂ District), Erico Aristotle Aumentado (2ndÂ District), and Arthur Yap (3rdÂ District) went along with the majority, voting â€œYesâ€.
All in all, the death penalty bill at the Lower House level garnered 217 votes. Only 54 voted â€œNoâ€, and one abstained.
The full statement of Rep. Relampagos and Rep. Yap appear elsewhere in this issue.
Rep. Relampagos in his explanatory note said that he voted “yes”Â
to give emphasis that the crimes covered by the re-imposition of the penalty of death all pertains not only to drugs but, more importantly, pertain to the production and all kinds of distribution or transfer of prohibited drugs, including its transport. Hence, it basically pertains to the non-proliferation of drugs and curtailment of its use. A â€˜nipping at the budâ€™, so to speak.
He cited further that his vote affirming for the reimposition of death penalty wasÂ an affirmation of the primacy of life. Above all else, no one deserves to be a victim of drugs. We are given full faculties by our Maker and anyone who thwarts or destroys those faculties, in this case through drugs, should not be countenanced. This proposal is a strong statement to the whole world that our country says no to senseless and lawless loss of life outside the boundaries of law.
He likewise said that he voted yes as an affirmation of the Stateâ€™s obligation to protect its citizens,Â an affirmation to the Filipino family. When someone is into drugs, not only the person is affected but his whole family and community as well. It our declared policy under the Constitution that the Filipino family must always be protected and this is what we seek to do.
His yes vote was alsoÂ an affirmation of our international obligations. While a signatory to many international instruments on human rights, this should not mean, however, that we cannot introduce national policies that, while appears to go against said international instruments, are actually in furtherance of the same.
Relampagos further explained that he voted yes an affirmation to human rights and human dignity. Human rights does not only refer to the rights of the accused. It, more importantly, pertain to the right of all citizens as well asÂ an affirmation of hope for the future and for a culture of peace.Â
Finally, he said his vote wasÂ an affirmation of the countryâ€™s shared fight drugs. You name it, drugs destroys life, liberty and property. It destroys families and communities. It destroys good governance and integrity in the public service. It destroys trust in the Maker of life.
Â Rep. Arthur Yap emphasized that “forÂ the criminal justice system as a whole, the Government must ensure that all who are charged for crimes, especially the weak and the poor, must be afforded due process under law, and defended by competent lawyers at the expense of the State”.
He also pointed out that the â€œpeople’s rights to a speedy and just trial, together with all the civil rights guaranteed our citizens, must be protected at all times and those who are incarcerated must also be rehabilitated with the objective of returning them to society as productive citizensâ€.Â
Yap supported his vote with a record of the survey conducted in the third district of Bohol regarding the reimposition of death penalty which he said showed â€œwhence my authority to vote comes fromâ€.
He said he has not other intention â€œexcept to contribute to the well being, prosperity and preservation of our great nationâ€.
â€œI was elected a representative of the Third District of Bohol, and thus must I act: in representation of my district’s views, no matter how painful or divisive the issue may be.Â I can try to discuss my view and understanding of the great issues of the day, but once my district has made a decision on an issue, I must respect and deliver that decision as their Representative,â€ Yap explained.Â
The district wide survey results showed that â€œeven a great majority of those polled voted affirmatively for the body of crimes outlined in the original billâ€, that was including murder, rape and plunder.Â
â€œIt is not that the Third District of Bohol is populated by blood thirsty people.Â And surely, let it not be said that we love God less.Â It is just that my District believes that when one commits barbaric acts against our fellow man, such as rape, murder, kidnapping, treason, piracy and more, that perpetrator has also given up his right to live among civilized men and women,â€ according to Yap.
He also emphasized that the State is burdened more to defend the people, but it must be made clear that the governmentâ€™s intention is not to send as many people to be meted with death penalty.
As a condition to support the reimposition of death penalty, Yap also wants the government to create opportunities for the people to have decent lives.
The Government must instead continue strengthening institutions and programs that deliver basic services that create opportunities for its citizens to live decently and honorably.Â When income rises and poverty decreases, the scourge of drugs will naturally abate,â€ Yap pointedÂ
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â AUMENTADO’S VOTE
For his part, Aumentado, who was at first inclined to abstain, finally decided to vote â€œYesâ€ on the second and the third reading, considering the watered-down version.
Aumentado actually believes the reimposition of death penalty should be thoroughly examined.
He had preferred that it would include murder, rape and plunder as originally proposed.
However, since the measure was cut down to only one punishable act in focus, it helped him to come up with a stand.
House Bill 4727, proposing the reinstatement of death penalty is authored by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
It is entitled “An act imposing the death penalty on certain heinous crimes, repealing for the purpose Republic Act No. 9346, entitled ‘An act prohibiting the imposition of death penalty in the Philippines,’ and amending Act. No. 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the ‘Revised Penalty Code,’ and other special penal laws.”
Aumentado also took into consideration that the imposition of death penalty, as proposed in the bill, will not be mandatory and the judge hearing the case is given the leeway â€œwhether to impose life sentence or the maximum penalty of death on convictsâ€.
Under the bill, the drug-related offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment are importation of dangerous drugs; sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs maintenance of a den, dive or resort; manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for confiscated, seized or surrendered dangerous drugs; and planting of evidence.
For possession of drugs, the maximum penalty will only be penalized with the maximum offense is life imprisonment.
Aumentado also noted that under the bill, â€œdeath penalty will not be imposed on offenders below 18 years old and those over 70 years of age at the time of the commission of the crimeâ€.