The House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines [official website] voted Wednesday to advance [press release] a proposal [committee report] to reinstate the death penalty for “drug-related heinous crimes.” The legislation would impose the death penalty for several enumerated offenses, among which are the importation, distribution and possession of narcotics. The law would also be relevant to those who commit specified crimes while under the influence of drugs, and to public officials who misappropriate confiscated drugs. Executions would be carried out by hanging, lethal injection or firing squad no later than 18 months after a sentence is final. The law defines “heinous crimes” as those “grievous, odious and hateful offenses, which by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and orderly society.” The proposal would provide for automatic review.
The human rights situation in the Philippines has come under international scrutiny in recent months with a focus on the rights implicated in the nation’s war on drugs. In February Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International [advocacy websites] criticized the extrajudicial killings [JURIST report] in the Philippines as part of the war on drugs in the country. In January President Rodrigo Duterte, who was elected last May after campaigning on a promise to be extremely harsh on drug users, announced the suspension [JURIST report] of the island nation’s “war on drugs.” Also in January the president said he planed to declare martial law [JURIST report] if the country’s drug problem becomes “very virulent.”