On death penalty vote (My conscience is clear, decision didn’t come overnight - Celso) PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 March 2017 14:28

by DEXTER YAP

Congressman Celso Lobregat made a clear manifestation in reaction to criticisms against his decision to vote in favor of the passage of House Bill 4727, re-imposing the Death Penalty in the country.

The said bill passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 217 in favor,74 not in favor and one abstention. Both Lobregat and District II Congressman Mannix Dalipe voted in favor.

Lobregat said that on the very day he was voting, he has weighed all the positions of his colleagues expressed in several debates in congress for those who are in favor and against the passage of the bill.

“My vote was yes and I have a clear conscience about my decision. Si quere sila critica demiyo decision, this is not the decision which came overnight. I have consulted several groups, made several information campaign on radio, television and newspapers here in the city while the deliberation about death penalty started in congress. I have respected the decision of the catholic church, I have respected their decisions,” Lobregat said.

On the issue that he has not informed the public, Lobregat said that he has roamed almost all the radio, print and television networks in the city to inform the public about the history, the pros and cons and implications of the re-imposition of death penalty, prior to the final decision that on came last Tuesday (March 7), where he voted in favor together with the entire Mindanao bloc comprising the “127 Yes Votes”.

“I was criticized by a priest from Ateneo who also conducted a shame campaign in the city last week cay Atenista pa man daw iyo. Yes, Atenista yo y Lasalista pa yo, pero iyo un Zamboangeño y Filipino, y ya vota yo con mi concencia porcausa del agravao problema de droga na ciudad y entero paiz,” Lobregat said.

Lobregat further explained the facts of the framing of the Philippine Constitution which says in its provision that there is no total ban on death penalty. “Among those who were the framers of the constitution is a Jesuit priest - Father Joaquin Bernas. He voted in favor of that provision in the constitution. They have allowed it, also Sister Cristine Tan and Bishop Teodoro Bacani were framers of our Philippine Constitution.” He explained.

The Constitution said, “Death penalty shall not be imposed unless for compelling reasons, and if congress provides for it.” “They did not ban the death penalty.” He explained.

“If there are crimes which are punishable by death, it will be up to the presiding judge to decide and once he decides, there will be an automatic review by the Supreme Court on the derived decision.” Lobregat further explained.

Recall that during deliberations in the plenary, from the proposed (21) crimes punishable by death penalty, it was reduced to (7), then to four including which is rape, plunder, treason and drug-related cases, but eventually what was approved was now only the drug-related crimes which is the thrust of the Duterte administration.

“One week before the final decision there was a caucus, I participated and it was discussed. To make it easier to pass, although one rape is bad enough, but there is still Reclusion Perpetua and other existing laws,” Lobregat said.

Drug related crimes refer to the manufacture, importation and financing of illegal drugs, maintaining a drug den, including the planting of evidence by authorities.  These are all death penalty eligible. Once passed in the senate, there can be moves to include other crimes.

Lobregat said that it is now in the hands of the senate to deliberate on it. “They have to come up with their own version, different from congress. Then there will be the composition of a bicameral committee before coming up with one version what to adopt and impose before it will be signed by President Duterte into law.” He said. (Dexter Yap)