There will be serious debates on the death penalty proposals pending before the Senate once it reaches the plenary, Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said Thursday, following the lower chamber’s approval of the proposed law on second reading.
Aquino is part of the new six-member Senate minority bloc composed of Liberal Party (LP) senators and their allies.
“The minority will play an active role in the debates and we will make sure that counter perspectives are given a space in the Senate,” Aquino said in a statement.
“I am still hopeful that my fellow senators will not vote across partisan lines and vote with their conscience on this matter. In the end, we may even be enough to take a stand,” he said.
Aquino said he will not allow any efforts to “railroad” the death penalty bills in the Senate nor accommodate “secret votes.”
In a separate statement, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the Senate will not become a “death dealer.”
“I am confident that the recent Senate reorganization has not reorganized the position of my colleagues who are opposed to the reimposition of the death penalty,” she said.
She said the death penalty proposals are “ineffective, archaic and anti-human rights” measures.
On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives approved on second reading via viva voce vote their version of the death penalty law, and limited it to drug-related crimes.
Opposition solon Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman criticized the House leadership for railroading the measure, saying it “has led to the mutation of the House into a parliament of bullies and puppets.”
Senator Aquino said they will not allow the same to be done in the Senate.
“We will not allow it to be rushed. We must ensure that proper debate on the matter be conducted,” he said.
“We will not allow votes to be anonymous or hidden and we will ensure accountability among our colleagues,” Aquino added.
Seven death penalty proposals are still pending in the Senate justice committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon. Gordon himself is against the said proposals.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III earlier said he predicts a “close fight” between pro- and anti-death penalty senators.
Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, for his part, doubts that the death penalty bill will be passed by the Senate by June.