A measure that re-imposes death penalty for "high-level drug traffickers" will likely be passed by the Senate before the 2019 midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Thursday.
"'Kung maipapasa ito, maipapasa before the elections in 2019. Kapag hindi naipasa ng 2019 elections ito, tagilid ito," Sotto said in an interview on DZMM.
"Ibig sabihin nun 'yung 12 na maiiwan sa'min doon (Senate), sa tantsa ko ay hindi pabor [sa death penalty]. Unless 'yung mga papasok sa'min na bago ay solid na pro-death penalty [at saka lang maipapasa after 2019 elections]," he said.
The Senate subcommittee on Justice and Human Rights will again meet to discuss the issue but so far, most senators are willing to pass the death penalty bill if it is limited only to drug lords, Sotto said.
"High-level drug trafficking lang ang may pag-asa. Other crimes, like rape and murder, pag nakulong mo, hindi na makakaulit kasi nandun na sa loob [ng bilangguan]. Pero yung high level drug trafficking, nakakulong na nag-ooperate pa e," he said.
Criticisms that the death penalty is anti-poor will also be addressed if the capital punishment will be reserved only for drug lords.
"Sa high-level drug trafficking, walang poor na drug lord so walang mabibitay na mahirap. 'Yung mga street pusher sa tabi-tabi, puwede nang life imprisonment 'yun," Sotto said.
The reimposition of death penalty is among the priority bills espoused by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Last year, the president's allies in the House of Representatives approved on final reading their version of the death penalty measure.