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Sotto: Death penalty bill can’t be passed before June

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Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III expressed doubts if the Senate could act with dispatch the death penalty bill before they adjourn sine die in June.

“Mahihirapan,” Sotto admitted in an interview with reporters Wednesday (March 8), saying that the most that they could do is probably oversee its approval by the last quarter of the year.

Still, Sotto said they will be prompted to have the committee handling the death penalty bill to take it up soon since the House of Representatives has already approved it on third and final reading.

“We to take it up because they passed it. It had been pointed out (to House leaders) during the mini-LEDAC (Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council) joint meeting, we told them that it’s not a priority in the Senate and most of the members do not consider it as a priority measure. But we promise to take it up. Yun ang sabi naman namin kina Speaker (Pantaleon) Alvarez,” he said.

The Senate committee handling the measure will have to report it out soon when the panel is ready.

But it’s really up to the committee chair, which in this case is Sen. Richard Gordon, who handles the justice and human rights panel, whether to expedite the deliberations or not, said Sotto.

“Pakikiramdaman naming kung aaksyon yung chair or hindi. Pag hindi eh di yung members of Senate na gusto i take up yun we can ask the chairman to allow us to sponsor it on the floor. Hihingi kami ng permiso. The worst that can happen, kung ayaw kumilos ng chairman, which I doubt, we have rules in the Senate that will allow five members of the Senate to sign and with five signatures we can report out to the floor any bill pending in any committee,” he said.

“Pero mahirap mahaba ang debate nyan. Ang pinaka earliest possible nyan, the most optimistic time (to pass it) would be the last week of May, most optimistic na yun na mapasa. The earliest possible yun. Therefore from now to Mar next week imposible. Then pag nag resume kami ng May 2 baka ma take up until probably, maigsi na yung three to four weeks of weeks debate.

The most pessimistic time would be before the Halloween break if ever we’re going to pass it,” said Sotto.

Unlike in the House of Representatives, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said there is no pressure being exerted among them in having to vote for the passage of the bill.

“We will vote on the basis on our belief, our convictions and what we think is right in our decision,” he said.

“Ako ang bilang ko, mukhang malabo (na pumasa) sa Senado. Yung mental calculation ko, based on my informal discussion with some of my colleagues, mukhang sa bilang, hindi aabot ng 12,” Lacson said, referring to those who will vote to support its passage.