MANILA -- The proposed revival of death penalty can muster enough votes to get passed in the Senate dominated by administration allies, the leader of the chamber said Tuesday, following President Rodrigo Duterte's renewed call for the measure.
Duterte, in his State of the Nation Address on Monday, urged lawmakers to approve capital punishment for high-level drug trafficking and plunder, saying that the narcotics problem would not be solved unless corruption is addressed.
"Palagay ko squeaker, pero kaya. Kumbaga, mga 13, 14 kakayanin," Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto told radio DZMM.
(I think it will be a squeaker, but it's possible. It can get 13, 14.)
If all 24 senators are present, a measure needs a majority or 13 votes to get passed.
The death penalty bill faced strong opposition from senators of the previous 17th Congress. The House of Representatives passed the proposed measure, but later withdrew its approval.
It would not look good for senators to reject capital punishment for plunder, said Sotto.
"'Pag hindi ka sumuporta d'yan, parang takot ka," the senator said.
"Kung talagang ipapasok ang plunder at hindi naman magandang umayaw kami doon, kasama na rin sa squeaker iyun," he added.
(If you don't support that, it would seem you're afraid. If plunder is included in the bill, it would not be good for us to reject it. It will be part of the squeaker.)
Duterte has been hoping to reinstate the death penalty in the Philippines, where nearly 80 percent of its population is made up of Catholics, as he wages his war on illegal drugs and pursues an anti-crime campaign.
Duterte’s candidates dominated May's midterm elections, which could make it easier for the administration to pass bills with more support from the Senate.