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By: Rep. Edcel C. Lagman

Three minutes is too short for the explanation of my dissenting vote. I shall therefore summarize my reasons and submit the full text for inclusion in the Journal.

Let me start by commending 53 colleagues who voted against the reimposition of the death penalty, 54 including my negative vote. I salute them for their courage in defying threats and pressures from the House leaders and remaining steadfast in promoting and protecting human rights.

I submit the two overriding reasons, among others, for voting against House Bill No. 4727:

1. The reimposition of capital punishment is an open defiance of our irrevocable commitment not to reimpose the death penalty as a State Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. We undertook under the Protocol not to execute anyone within our jurisdiction. Significantly, the Philippines became a State Party to the Protocol in 2007, a year after the country abolished the death penalty under R.A. No. 9346.

International law jurisprudence, covenants and authorities unequivocally declare that no country can use its domestic law, including its constitution, to renege on or violate its treaty obligations. This is consistent with the constitutional principle that the Philippines “adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land.”

2. The 1987 Constitution abolished the death penalty. However, it allowed the Congress to reimpose it for compelling reasons on heinous crimes. These two stringent conditions are separate but concurring.

The heinousness of a crime is not determinative of the compelling reason. They are not synonymous. The Congress must show separately the requisite factors of “compelling reasons” and “heinousness”. The proponents have failed to comply with the constitutional prerequisites.

No compelling reasons were shown why the death penalty must be reimposed on the drug-related offenses as the maximum penalty.

Even the 1988 UN Drug Convention, to which the Philippines is again a State Party, does not prescribe death penalty on drug-related offenses.

The International Narcotics Control Board has consistently advised countries not to impose the death penalty on drug offenses because the capital punishment violates the right to life. The death penalty does not address the various factors which influence the prevalence of the drug menace.

The unsubstantiated claim that the death penalty (a) is a fitting response to criminality; (b) it will restore respect for the laws; (c) it is a path to achieve justice; and (d) it is geared towards genuine reform in the criminal justice system, are not impressed with compelling reasons because: (a) data show that the rate of criminality has gone down and the death penalty is not a deterrent; (b) the SWS survey released on 31 January 2017 documented that the number of Filipinos who were victims of crimes have gone down to record lows; (c) punitive justice is not the avenue to achieve justice because vengeance is never justice; and (d) the imposition of capital punishment is not a precursor to judicial reforms.

The death penalty is an abhorrent punishment. It forecloses the reformation of the convict. It victimizes the poor. It is not the solution to criminality. It is not the answer to poverty and social injustice. It debases the right to life.

Pope Francis has declared that the inviolability of life extends to the criminal!

(Speech delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman on 07 February 2017 during the Plenary Session of the House of Representatives)

Mr. Speaker, the burden to indubitably show the urgency and necessity to reimpose the death penalty is on the proponents of House Bill 4727, which seeks to revive capital punishment because the state of the law since 2006 is that the death penalty has been abolished by RA No. 9346 of which I was the principal author and sponsor. The oppositors respectfully and diligently present the overview of the major grounds why the death penalty should not be reinstalled.

While no time is right and ripe for pushing for the reimposition of the death penalty, now is the worst of times to enact the revival of capital punishment when scalawag cops are the very felons, and rogues in robes preside over the life or death of citizens.

In an unprecedented move, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the crackdown on errant police elements and the dismantling of anti-narcotics groups, including Oplan “Tokhang”, in the wake of the police murder of a Korean businessman, not to mention the over 7,000 victims of extrajudicial killings.

(Privilege Speech delivered by Rep. Edcel. C. Lagman on 09 August 2016)

 

Indeed, death is the great equalizer between the poor and the rich, the powerful and the weak, the famous and the unknown, the influential and the marginalized.

But even in death, there is a separation, a distinction, in history and the people’s appreciation between a tyrant and a just ruler, a despot and his victims, a hero and a villain, a patriot and a traitor.

Verily, the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) is the hallowed graveyard for heroes and patriots, not of despots and plunderers.

(Speech delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, a member of the House Minority, on 27 July 2016)

The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is a concrete articulation of a President’s assessment of the nation’s status, as well as his policy statements and proposed legislation. This is particularly true with respect to the first SONA of a new President.

It is also a constitutional duty.

It is for these reasons that the SONA is documented in a well-prepared speech read by the President, ideally devoid of motherhood statements and with a minimum of adlibs and populist sound bites.

It is unfortunate that President Duterte meandered from his prepared speech into spontaneous and repetitive references on varied subjects and details, losing necessary focus.

In the process, the President must have missed reading important points in his prepared address.

Consequently, this reaction to the SONA will include subjects on which the President has previously pontificated but not expressed by him in the delivered SONA.

(Delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal and collective privilege regarding the status and recognition of the Minority Leader subsequent to yesterday’s election for the Speakership.

Colleagues, both in the Majority and Minority, tri-media and social media and interested parties are puzzled why the Honorable Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. of the Lone District of Ifugao up to now has not been officially recognized as the Minority Leader.

The House of Representatives of the 17th Congress cannot democratically function without a Minority Leader. Moreover, the Rules Committee cannot also function with only the Majority represented. Our Rules provide that the Minority Leader and five Deputy Minority Leaders shall be automatic members of the Committee on Rules.