There will be “full-blown, no-restraints” debates on the death penalty bill in the Upper Chamber, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto assured today.
“At whatever level, the discussions will not be abbreviated. It will be open mic for all,” Recto said, adding “it has never been the Senate’s tradition to curtail the airing of ideas.”
“That has been the way bills are made the in Senate: they go through the filter provided by members. There’s no gag rule here. Everyone has the right to say his piece,” he said.
Debates on proposals to restore capital punishment will be “tough and thorough,” Recto said, because the hardest vote for a legislator to cast is on bills that will “send men to war or to death.”
Recto agreed with his fellow members’ observation that despite its approval in the House of Representatives, the death penalty bill will not be an “urgent priority measure” in the Senate.
The reason, he explained, is that there are many good measures in the Senate pipeline which came ahead and must be disposed of first.”
These are the Free Public College bill, the creation of Coconut Industry Development Fund, the proposed Emergency Powers Act on traffic crisis, tax break measures, women empowerment bills, the New Corporation Code, anti-money laundering measures, “among many,” the senator said.
For his part, Recto believes that before the Senate tackles the business of state-sanctioned deaths, it must pass “life-improvement” measures first.
“Unahin muna ang batas na magpapaganda ng buhay. Bago patay, hindi ba mas maganda mauna ang mga batas na magbibigay ng hanapbuhay? Improvement of lives should take precedence over death,“ he said.
“Another predicate,” he said, is to improve and modernize law enforcement, prosecution service, the courts, and the prison system.
“If they have logistical needs, let’s fix and fund them first because justice is not about punishment alone. It includes creating the infrastructure that will ensure the certainty of arrest and conviction of criminals.”