President Rodrigo Duterte’s wish for the return of the death penalty could yet be realized with the expected election of most of the senatorial candidates he endorsed, Senate President Tito Sotto said Thursday.
He made the statement following the strong showing of President Duterte’s candidates from his PDP-Laban party and those endorsed by his daughter’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
Those included allies like former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and former police chief Ronald Dela Rosa, Duterte’s loyal associates since his days as mayor of Davao City.
“That’s a possibility now because nadagdag nga ang pro-death penalty,” Sotto told reporters in a forum.
“Sino ang bumoto para sa kanila? Yung mga tao. ‘Di ba alam nila kung sino yung pro-death penalty o hindi?”
But Sotto could not say if the process of approving the bill would be easier, considering the “non-cloture” rule in the Senate.
“Sa Senate walang closure, eh. Nakakalimutan nila na hindi ka pwedeng mag-ram through, hindi katulad sa House na pwede kang mag-ram through, dadaanin sa bilang.
“I can say na it is possible, hindi ko pwedeng sabihin na mas madali, again because of the non-cloture rule of the Senate. Kung maraming ayaw, maraming pamamaraan.”
The House of Representatives in the 17th Congress approved on third and final reading House Bill 4727 that seeks to reimpose capital punishment on seven drug-related offenses.
The bill, however, has not made significant progress in the Senate.
Sotto allayed fears that since the death penalty bill is a priority legislation of Duterte, it would now be approved in the Senate as many of his allies were winning in the senatorial race.
“I’d rather not say that it’s a Palace bill kung tutuusin. Because I for one filed without any egging from the Palace,” he said.
“As a matter of fact, the Palace death penalty before na gusto na ipapasa sana ng Congress, mas maraming crimes na kasama. Anong nangyari? ‘Di ba sa kakadebate namin nasabi na huwag na yan.”
Sotto believes, however, that the death penalty should be imposed on individuals found involved in high-level drug trafficking.
“It is a defense mechanism of the government against high-level drug traffickers and drug lords because we are the only one in this part of the world where we have no death penalty for high-level drug trafficking,” he said.