The Philippine House of Representatives has approved a bill to reimpose the death penalty for drug-related crimes, among others.
On Tuesday, the lower house voted to approve the bill — in its third and final reading — with 217 voting yes and 54 no, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports. However, the bill still requires senatorial approval before the President can sign it into law.
Reinstating the death penalty was one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s major campaign promises. It also represents a major U-turn for the Philippines: in 2007, the country became the first in the region to ratify the optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolishment of the death penalty.
“Not only is capital punishment an inherently cruel punishment that is invariably imposed unfairly, but — contrary to what Duterte and others claim — it has not been shown to deter crime,” Carlos Conde, the Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch in Asia, said in a statement.
“Adding a veneer of legality to the bloodbath in the Philippines will make stopping it even harder,” he added.
Duterte’s “war on drugs” has killed more than 8,000 people since its commencement on July 1, according to local media. In December, the President promised to execute “five or six” criminals per day once the bill to restore the death penalty was reintroduced.
Crimes punishable by death — to be carried out by hanging, firing squad or lethal injection — include the sale, trading, or transportation of drugs, and the maintenance of a drug den among others; drug possession is punishable by life imprisonment under the bill.