(UPDATED) Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte says he ‘cannot accept’ that the 17th Congress ‘would take blood in its own hands’
VOTED NO. Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte explains his vote against the death penalty bill. Screengrab from congress.gov.ph
The House of Representatives approved on 3rd and final reading the death penalty bill on Tuesday, March 7 with a vote of 217-54-1.
Congressmen were given a chance to explain their votes before the plenary. Among them was Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte, who voted against House Bill 4727.
Here is the full text of Belmonte’s speech as provided by his office.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
First of all, Mr Speaker, I would like read excerpts from a letter sent to me by one of my constituents from Barangay Culiat.
“Hon Belmonte, I am writing to you to express my support in your stand against the passing of the Death Penalty. Please hold strong and be steadfast in your argument. Admittedly, a lot of people in government right now are so myopic. Hence, I am absolutely grateful for those few who remain to have the foresight necessary for the genuine development of this nation.
“In behalf of your constituents who can see right through our crippled judiciary, thank you for representing us.
“In behalf of all those imprisoned for a fault they never committed, thank you for being against the imposition of the most cruel penalty.
“In behalf of those who are properly imprisoned most probably due to their circumstances – that of intense poverty, as if society can blame them for putting them under circumstances when they constructively lost their freedom of choice, thank you for acknowledging that the only way to lessen criminality is to provide jobs.”
Honorable Speaker, I have a very high respect for this institution. I cannot fathom the idea that our 17th Congress, with its foresight, would take blood in its own hands. I cannot accept the thought that we, the Members of the House of Representatives, will allow fellow human beings to be killed by our own government. Stripped of its nomenclature, imposing death penalty is allowing State-sponsored killings. A person killed by the State in its death chambers is blood on MY hands, it is blood on our hands. I refuse the idea that I allowed our government to kill in my name, in our name, Mr Speaker.
I am here as the representative of my constituents, mostly law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. Approving the imposition of death penalty is putting an additional burden on the shoulders of our people. Taxpayers would pay for every death through hanging, lethal injection or firing squad. I resist the idea that my constituents would be made to pay taxes to maintain and operate our death chambers.
Mr Speaker, I stand firm in my personal conviction that what we are doing right now is an act of injustice. In the words of the philosopher Plato: “He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it.”
Mr Speaker, I voted no during the deliberation of House Bill 4727 at the justice committee last December 7; I voted no on the bill’s 2nd reading last week. Today, I remain firm against the imposition of death penalty. I vote no. – Rappler.com