MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto said he would withdraw his proposal to revive the death penalty in the country if majority of Filipinos would say that they are against it.
Aside from his bill pending in the Senate seeking the reimposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes, Sotto said he would file in January next year another measure seeking capital punishment for high-profile drug traffickers.
The senator said he was confident that his proposals would pass the Senate.
Told that various sectors were strongly opposing his proposal, Sotto said: “Ah hindi, mas maraming in favor. I challenge them to conduct a survey. Let the people decide.” (Oh, no. More people are in favor.)
He added that he was confident that his bills would be approved despite him being in the opposition.
“Kasi mararamdan nila ito ang gusto ng taumbayan,” Sotto explained. (They [other senators] feel that this is what the people want.)
But he added that should a survey be done and majority of Filipinos oppose the death penalty, he would withdraw his proposals.
“Kung majority sasabihing ‘Huwag,’ I’ll withdraw,” the lawmaker said. (If majority would say ‘No,’ I’ll withdraw.) “Tandaan nila vox populi, vox dei.” (They [opposition] should remember that the voice of the people is the voice of God.)
The senator said he was ready to present his arguments on why there was a need to reimpose capital punishment in the country.
Responding to claims that the issue was ill-timed since Pope Francis would be visiting the Philippines from January 15 to 19, the senator said: “E ‘di huwag muna naming i-discuss habang nandito si Pope. I-discuss natin pag alis nya.” (Let’s not discuss it while the Pope is here. Let’s discuss it after he leaves.”
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is among those opposed to the revival of the death penalty.
Sotto said he could cite on the Senate floor numerous Biblical passages where God says the devil should be suppressed.
“Kaya nga si St. Michael the Archangel may espada e,” he stressed. (Even St. Michael the Archangel has a sword.)
He denied criticism that the death penalty was anti-poor, noting that there were no poor drug lords.
As to fears that the innocent could be wrongfully executed because of the imperfect justice system, Sotto pointed out that safeguards would be set in place, like automatic appeal before the Supreme Court in cases where death is imposed.
“Hindi naman tayo China e na one hour lang ang motion for reconsideration,” he said. (We are not China where motions for reconsideration are only given one hour.) (MNS)