A bill seeking to re-impose the death penalty in the Philippines has become the first to be filed under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte. Local media reported Wednesday that the bill proposes that those convicted of certain "heinous crimes" be executed by legal injection, and was filed by Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez -- Duterte's choice for Speaker of the House of Representatives -- and Representative Fredenil Castro of central Capiz province.
"Philippine society is left with no option but to deal with certain grievous offenders in a manner commensurate to the gravity, perversity, atrociousness and repugnance of their crimes," according to House Bill No. 1 of the newly sworn in 17th Congress. After winning the May 9 election on a crime-fighting campaign, Duterte vowed to work toward re-introducing the death penalty, which had been abolished for a second time in 2006.
Duterte -- a lawyer by profession -- served 22 years as the mayor of southern Davao, overseeing its transformation from a crime-ridden hovel to a peaceful and investment-friendly city. He has pledged to curb corruption and criminality within three to six months of his presidential term, which began June 30. In House Bill No. 1, Alvarez underlined the need to revive the death penalty due to the country's crime rate having "grown to such alarming proportions requiring an all-out offensive against all forms of felonious acts".
"There is evidently a need to reinvigorate the war against criminality by revising a deterrent coupled by its consistent, persistent and determined implementation," Alvarez and Castro said. Listed among the "heinous crimes" that could be subject to the death penalty are human trafficking, illegal recruitment, treason, rape, qualified piracy and bribery, kidnapping and illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, terrorism and drug-related cases.
"The imposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes and the mode of its implementation, both subjects of repealed laws, are crucial components of an effective dispensation of both reformative and retributive justice," the bill's authors stressed. The Philippines became the first Asian country to prohibit the death penalty under its 1987 Constitution, drafted after the overthrow of late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos.
Capital punishment was restored in the 1990s -- as allowed under the constitution with the approval of Congress -- before being abolished in 2006. As Davao City mayor, Duterte imposed bans on public smoking, and the selling of alcohol and the operation of entertainment spots past midnight. In 2015, however, Amnesty International alleged that "death squads" under his control were responsible for 700 extrajudicial executions in the region. Duterte reported to have responded that it was more like 1,700.