Senate President Sotto favors death penalty for drug trafficking cases

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Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto gave his nod to death penalty for high-level drug trafficking cases, days after taking oath. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto, who took over the leadership of the upper chamber just days ago, has given his nod to the restoration of the death penalty for high-level drug trafficking cases.

"Kung ang pag uusapan natin ay ibalik ang death penalty for high-level drug trafficking payag ako," Sotto said in a Kapihan session, Thursday.

[Translation: If we are talking about returning death penalty for high-level drug trafficking cases, I approve]

Sotto warned pro-death penalty groups however, to exercise caution in choosing crimes subject to the penalty.

"Pag aralan natin ng mabuti at tingin ko rin dun sa mga nagtutulak niyan pag aralan nilang mabuti kase yung mga krimen na binabanggit nila ay may remedyo as a prosecution or maayos ang prosecution is concerned," he said.

[Translation: Let's study this thoroughly, and I think those who are pushing for the measure should study it well because the crimes they mentioned can be remedied through prosecution]

Capital punishment was abolished in the Philippines in 2006 and its restoration would be inhumane, unlawful and an ineffective response to the drug problem, human rights watchdog Amnesty International has said.

The Philippines has earlier ratified an international treaty — the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its protocol — that categorically prohibits executions. 

This is not the first time the Senate President expressed his approval of the punishment's reimposition. Sotto initially proposed a Senate bill reinstating death penalty for "heinous crimes" back in 2014 but did not specify what these crimes were.

The bill was pending approval at the committee level since 2016.

Sotto also voiced his agreement with President Duterte when he first shared his desire to restore death penalty in the country, although Sotto was not sure if hanging was the way to go.

READ: Sotto supports death penalty, doubts Supreme Court, Congress will approve hanging

 

 

A moot point

 

The House of Representatives approved their own death penalty bill related to manufacturing and trading illegal drugs by a 217-54 vote in March last year, but its passage in the Senate remains moot.

Former Senate President Senator Koko Pimentel previously said the bill "has a chance" with the Senate should they restrict the punishable crime to high-level drug trafficking cases, echoing the sentiments of his successor.

READ: Pimentel: Death penalty not a Senate priority

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon marked the bill as "dead" in January this year, convinced that the measure will not pass the Senate.

READ: Drilon: Death penalty 'dead' in Senate

Other Senators who have expressed support for capital punishment include Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto, JV Ejercito, Manny Pacquiao, Ping Lacson, Win Gatchalian, and Cynthia Villar.

Meanwhile, eleven senators have been vocal against it: the four Liberal party senators, their allies Risa Hontiveros and Sonny Trillanes, Chiz Escudero and Ralph Recto — who were formerly with the minority — Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, and Senator Dick Gordon.