Lawmakers approved the bill to reinstate capital punishment with 216 to 54 votes, the Catholic Herald posted Mar 7.

The Philippine House of Representatives, the lower house in Congress, has overwhelmingly voted in favour of reinstating capital punishment for serious drug offences.

The final vote was tallied at 216 to 54 with one abstention.

The bill must now be approved by the Senate.

The original bill, submitted on January 11, proposed to restore death by firing squad, hanging and lethal injection as punishment for 21 “heinous crimes”. The crimes included treason, murder, rape, and violent car theft. These crimes were taken out by the final reading.

The final reading of the bill approved capital punishment for serious drug offences.

In a statement, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said Filipino bishops were “overcome with grief” at the decision to pass the bill.

Archbishop Villegas wrote: “The House of Representatives has given its consent for the State to kill. We, your bishops, are overcome with grief but we are not defeated nor shall we be silenced.

“We call on all Catholic faithful and all Filipinos who stand for life to continue the spirited opposition to death penalty. We urge Catholic lawyers, judges and jurists to allow the gentleness of the Gospel of Life to illumine their reading and application of the law, so that their service to society as teachers and agents of the law and of justice may bring life. It is indeed that we may have life to the full that the Lord came into our midst.

“They may have won but it does not mean that they are right.”

Capital punishment was revoked as a punishment for all crimes in 2006.

President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to reinstate the punishment as part of his “war on drugs” during his election campaign.

More than 8,000 people have been killed since Duterte took office eight months ago, many in incidents involving vigilantes. –