MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday said the revival of the death penalty for those convicted of high-level drug trade is possible with the incoming set of senators.
"That’s a possibility now because nadagdag nga 'yung pro-death penalty. Pero sino bumoto para sa kanila? 'Yung mga tao. Di ba alam nila kung sino 'yung pro-death penalty at hindi?" he told reporters.
("That’s a possibility now because there are new senators who are pro-death penalty. But who voted for them? The people. They know who is pro and anti-death penalty right?)
Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been pushing for the measure, are poised to dominate the senatorial race based on the ongoing tally.
Sotto said the measure reviving such capital punishment was filed without any urging from Malacañang.
He said he had agreed that the revival of the death penalty was not needed, save for enforcing it on convicts of drug trafficking.
The Duterte administration has been waging a relentless war against drugs where street-level pushers and users have been caught or killed, but major busts have only netted contraband, not suspects.
"Payag na talaga ako na walang death penalty (I've agreed that there should not be death penalty) but for high-level drug trafficking it has to be there. It’s a defense mechanism against high-level drug traffickers and drug lords," he said.
"We are the only country in this part of the world where we have no death penalty for drug trafficking. Kaya paboritong-paborito tayo, dito nagmamanufacture, nagtranshipment (It's why we're the favorite. They manufacture and conduct transhipment here)."
Sotto said the death penalty "need not be used but it should be there."
"Kung lalagay mo 'yan na parang sword of democracy, need not be used but it should be there. 'Yun ang ika nga eh panakot ng gobyerno," he said.
(If you use it like a sword of democracy, need not be used but should be there. It's what the government could use to instill fear.)
In February, the House of Representatives withdrew its approval of a bill that imposes the death penalty for drug offenses.
A separate bill reviving the death penalty hurdled the House under former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez but has languished at the Senate.
The Philippines was the first Asian country to abolish the death penalty in 1987, but it was reinstated under President Fidel Ramos in response to increasing crime rates. It was abolished again under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006.