Sotto calls on voters to elect pro-death penalty Senate bets

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) — Amid renewed calls for the reimposition of the death penalty following the killing and skinning of a teen in Cebu, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III urged voters to elect senatorial candidates who favor capital punishment.

"If they are in favor of the death penalty, vote for senators who are in favor of the death penalty. If you are not in favor of the death penalty, then vote for senators, candidates who are not in favor," Sotto told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

He added that the crimes of rape and murder should also be punished by death. He previously expressed support for reviving the death penalty for high-level drug trafficking, despite having filed a bill which sought to punish heinous crimes by death.

He said that capital punishment will be the "defense mechanism of the government" and ensured that it will have safeguards.

A bill restoring death penalty for drug-related offenses swiftly passed in the House, but stalled in the Senate, as many of its members are not receptive to the measure.

Sotto admitted that the measure reviving death penalty has still not yet received backing from majority of the senators, but added that more members of the chamber are signifying their support for the proposal.

There are at least eight bills pending in the Senate which seeks to bring back death penalty, including those filed by Sotto and Senators Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Sherwin Gatchalian and Manny Pacquiao.

Lawmakers and President Rodrigo Duterte see death penalty as a deterrent to crimes, but the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has said that capital punishment does not lower crime rates.

A majority of Filipinos also prefer imprisonment over death penalty for drug-related crimes, a CHR-commissioned October 2018 Social Weather Stations survey showed.

The 1987 Constitution abolished the death penalty but allowed Congress to bring it back for heinous crimes. It was brought back under the administration of President Fidel Ramos and abolished again under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.