Manila – Philippine legislators approved on Tuesday the restoration of the death penalty for drug-related offences in the country, 11 years after the punishment was abolished.
In a plenary session at the House of Representatives, 216 members voted in favour of the reinstating the death penalty, while 54 voted against and one abstained.
The approved death penalty bill limits its coverage to drug-related offences to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s aggressive campaign against narcotics, which has killed thousands.
It excluded crimes that were punishable by death previously such as plunder, rape or treason. It also does not impose a mandatory death sentence for the covered offences.
The penalty would be carried out by hanging, firing squad or lethal injection.
The Senate has to approve bill separately from the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law by Duterte, who had called for the restoration of the death penalty.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the administration trusts that the Senate would also approve the bill, “considering that it is a vital tool in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and criminality.”
“The restoration of capital punishment underlines the Duterte administration’s goal to reduce illegal drug-related criminality,” he said in a statement.
“The death penalty, with its strong deterrent effects, protects innocent lives,” he added. “At the same time, its punitive aspect ensures that criminals recompense grievous loss.”
Opponents vowed to question the law before the Supreme Court once it is signed.
“This is a curse on our predominantly Catholic nation,” said Representative Lito Atienza, one of those who voted against the death penalty.
The death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 2006 under former president Gloria Arroyo, now a member of the House who voted against its restoration.
When the Philippines had the death penalty, the punishment was carried out by lethal injection. It was last enforced in 1999 against a man convicted of raping his step-daughter.