MANILA—House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said on Wednesday that proposed amendments to the death penalty bill will include safeguard mechanisms to guarantee individuals accused of committing heinous crimes a fair trial.
In an ambush interview, Fariñas said one of the safeguard measures is to require the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to assign senior lawyers in handling the automatic review or appealed cases of the death penalty.
Fariñas also said another amendment will require the fiscal to distribute copies of information on cases involving heinous crimes to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), and other religious and civic organizations.
This allows the religious and civic sectors to “assist the accused” or monitor the case, the House leader noted.
“Kasi naman po ito ay community effort, if we feel we had an imperfect judicial system then let’s do our share by monitoring the judicial system,” he added.
Fariñas said members of the majority have agreed to whittle down the number of crimes covered by the death penalty bill from the original 21 to just four offenses including plunder, treason, rape, and certain drug-related offenses.
Of the eight-drug related offenses included in the bill, drug possession will be struck off the list, he noted.
The changes, however, will reflect once the bill undergoes the period of amendments.
The House leadership is targeting to vote on the measure for second reading on February 28.