Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee chairman Richard Gordon said he would not give up ‘death penalty’ deliberations easily.
In a radio interview, Gordon said he could not just easily allow Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to lead the deliberations of the death penalty bills, claiming that there are rules they need to follow.
“We have rules and it is clear that I am holding the Committee of Justice. If he will say that I am against death penalty and he will say I may be biased, then I will not let him lead the deliberations because he also aggressively said that he is for the death penalty,” Gordon said.
“You go through the rules and then you debate within the committee. I can handle a committee hearing while not siding with any position (on the bill)… I’m calling him down. Don’t say that we are dragging our feet here because I am not doing that,” Gordon said, referring to Dela Rosa.
Last week, Dela Rosa delivered a privilege speech expressing support to death penalty. He also appealed to his colleagues to at least deliberate on the bills.
Dela Rosa volunteered to chair a sub-committee of Senate Justice and Human Rights panel to push for the deliberations of the measure which the president has asked Congress to attend to.
To earn a chance to chair the sub-committee, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has withdrawn his membership from the panel and the Senate elected Dela Rosa to be a member of the Senate Justice panel.
On Monday, the senators will hold an all-member caucus at 2 pm to determine if Dela Rosa will be admitted to lead the sub-committee.
In the same interview, Gordon reiterated that the country has signed a treaty, specifically the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 2nd Optional Protocol, which aims to abolish death penalty.
He also argued that the government should not prioritize the talks on capital punishment as the country and the whole world is facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Why are we going to talk about it now? Can we not disagree with the President? We can disagree, we can set our position that this is not our priority. Our priority is to focus on the suffering of the people, end the problem of COVID, pass a stimulus package,” Gordon said.