By Ben Rosario
Death penalty advocates in the House of Representatives are upbeat over Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s pronouncement of allowing the passage of the restoration of the capital punishment only for drug cases.
Led by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Illegal Drugs, administration lawmakers agree with Sotto’s position that the death sentence be reimposed in the country even if it will cover only high-level drug traffickers.
Reps. Arnolfo Teves (PDP-Laban, Negros Oriental); Sherwin Tugna (CIBAC Partylist) and Carlos Uybaretta (1-CARE Partylist) all voted for the passage of House Bill 4727 that provides for the restoration of the death penalty for drug-related cases.
Barbers explained that his original bill called for the imposition of the death sentence against persons found guilty of drug trafficking.
“But my bill was later consolidated with other bills seeking to re-impose the death sentence on a number of heinous offenses, including plunder,” said Barbers.
Sotto, who has been supportive of the Catholic Church’s stand against death penalty, divorce, and same-sex marriage, said he is willing to discuss with senators the proposal to reinstate the death sentence if it will be limited to illegal drugs cases.
The Senate president is a fierce anti-drug abuse crusader. He was chairman of the Quezon City Anti-Drug Abuse Council, the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs.
A reformed drug user and now another vigorous anti-drug abuse advocate, Teves said Sotto’s pronouncement provides a good opening that would revive the bid to reinstate the death sentence.
It will be revealed that the death penalty was abolished in 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after it was re-imposed during the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos.