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Sotto: 'Very divisive' death penalty bill priority in Senate debates

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Monday, July 22, that the "very divisive" death penalty bill would be among the first measures to be debated in the Senate in the 18th Congress.

"It is a priority to debate on it. I would rather say that instead of saying that it is a priority measure because it's one issue that is very divisive. So we’d like to perhaps start debate on it," Sotto told reporters in an interview on Monday, ahead of the opening of the session.

Sotto reiterated that the version of the bill that seeks to reimpose capital punishment on crimes involving high-level drug traffickers stood a better chance of passage in the Senate than other versions.

Senators Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Bong Go, and Ronald dela Rosa filed separate death penalty bills.

Go's version seeks to impose the death penalty on plunder convicts. Go said on Monday that he would push for his measure despite doubts about its chances of passage, adding that those who would not support it were "likely scared."

Sotto said that other priority measures are amendments to Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 left pending in the 17th Congress, and amendments to the Public Security Act and the Foreign Investments Act.

"These were some of the bills that I know were left from the 17th Congress that we wanted to prioritize, but for lack of time," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel  Zubiri said that Malacañang had asked the Senate to pass its tax and social reform measures. 

Zubiri  also predicted an "interesting, exciting" Senate in the 18th Congress with the entry of new and returning senators.

"It's going to be an interesting, exciting 18th Congress – that, I promise to people. But we will always have the people's hearts and minds first in the policies that we will craft," Zubiri said.

The majority leader said that the new senators would surely "invigorate" their more senior colleagues with their expected "enthusiam."

The new faces in the Senate are all Duterte allies – Senators Imee Marcos, Francis Tolentino, Go, and Dela Rosa. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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