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Sotto: Death penalty now a possibility with more pro-death senators

President Rodrigo Duterte's wish for a death penalty law now has an increased chance of coming true with the expected election of most of the senatorial candidates he endorsed, Senate President Tito Sotto said on Thursday.

Sotto made the remark following the dominant showing of Duterte's candidates from among his PDP-Laban party mates and those endorsed by his daughter's regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

These include allies former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and former PNP 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 at a media forum.

"Sino ang bumoto para sa kanila? Yung mga tao. Diba alam nila kung sino yung pro-death penalty o hindi?" he added.

Sotto, however, cannot say that process of approving the bill will be easier, considering the "non-cloture" rule in the Senate.

"Sa Senate walang cloture e, nakakalimutan nila hindi ka pwedeng mag-ram through, hindi katulad sa House na pwede kang mag-ram through, dadaanin sa bilang," he said.

"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," he added.

It can be recalled that the House of Representatives in the 17th Congress approved on third and final reading House Bill 4727 which seeks to reimpose capital punishment on seven drug-related offenses.

The said bill, however, has not made significant progress in the Senate.

Sotto allayed fears that since the death penalty bill is a priority legislation of President Rodrigo Duterte, it will now be approved in the Senate as many of his allies are 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? Diba sa kakadebate namin nasabi na huwag na yan," he added.

Sotto believes, however, that 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 in this part of the world where we have no death penalty for high-level drug trafficking," he said.

Sotto assured the public that even if many incoming senators are allied with the President, the Senate will remain independent and transparent.

"We would like to maintain and if our leadership is retained, we will try to maintain an independent, transparent and sincere Senate like what we have done in the 17th Congress," he said. —NB, GMA News