THE announcement of newly installed Senate President Vicente Sotto III that Senate debates on the death penalty bill would continue under his watch is a welcome development and positive indication of the brand of leadership he brings to the upper chamber.
The restoration of the death penalty is one of the main campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte. Early in his term, Duterte already urged Congress to pass the measure restoring capital punishment, particularly for heinous, drug related cases.
Duterte believes that by letting the Grim Reaper stare drug dealers in the eye is a sure fire way of instilling fear in them.
With the way that drug syndicates have become more brazen in plying their trade despite the relentless campaign of the government against them, even President Duterte has acknowledged it would be very difficult to achieve his target of ridding the country of the drug menace by the time he steps down in power.
Aside from electing Duterte with an overwhelming majority, the Filipino people specifically supports his call for the restoration of the capital punishment. A survey of the Social Weather Stations on April 2017 shows 60 percent of Filipinos favor the reimposition of the death penalty.
The House of Representatives, under Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, has manifested their support of Pres. Duterte’s anti-drug campaign not by mere words but by deed.
On March 7 last year, the House passed on third and final reading House Bill No. 4727, with Alvarez himself as one of the main authors, for the restoration of the death penalty. The approved House bill was transmitted to the Senate two days later.
In contrast, then Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III’s support for the passage of the bill is not equally firm. Instead he sent mixed signals.
He said he agrees with the restoration of the death penalty but only on the most heinous ones. On the other hand, he said the death penalty bill is not a priority measure of the Senate.
That’s likely the reason the death penalty bill remains pending at the Senate to date. With Sotto’s at the Senate helm, Pres. Duterte’s campaign promise may finally become a law after all.
That would probably reap a grin of approval for Filipinos who share Duterte’s vision of a drug-free Philippines.