Palace defends Alvarez: He’s just standing his ground
Malacañang on Sunday defended Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez from criticism about his hard-line position on the death penalty bill.
Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said Alvarez was just “standing his ground” in pushing for one of the major legislative thrusts of President Rodrigo Duterte in the lower chamber.
READ: Alvarez: Bring it on
“Kung ano ‘yung mga binibitawang salita ni Speaker Bebot ito’y dahil sa sa kanyang dedikasyon at sa kanyang paniniwala sa mga polisiya ng ating Pangulo,” said Andanar over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
“Palagay ko ay si Speaker Bebot Alvarez is just standing his ground dahil alam naman natin na si Pangulong Duterte at si Speaker Alvarez think along the same line pagdating sa mga polisiya,” he added.
“Kaya nga nandiyan siya as Speaker of the House dahil siguro hindi nagkakalayo ang kanilang prinsipyo, ‘yung kanilang mga polisiya para sa ating bansa,” Andanar said.
Alvarez has drawn flak for threatening to strip members of the Duterte-controlled supermajority of deputy speakerships and committee chairmanships if they oppose the measure seeking to revive capital punishment for heinous crimes.
Alvarez, author of the death penalty bill, said former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would be among those who could be replaced if she opposed the measure. It was during Arroyo’s term as president that the death penalty was abolished.
Asked about the move of Duterte’s allies in the House of Representatives to remove plunder from the list of heinous crimes punishable by death under the bill, Andanar said: “I defer to the Lower House and I would like to express that we respect their independence.”
“Sila po ay independent body in the same way that the Executive department is a co-equal branch. So hayaan muna natin sila doon na tapusin ‘yung kanilang deliberation. We respect their independence and we will wait for the final decision of the Lower House, ‘yung kanilang final version,” he added.
The proposed legislation initially identifies 21 major offenses to be punished with death through lethal injection, firing squad or hanging. These included plunder, treason, qualified piracy, murder, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and dangerous drug offenses.
Removing plunder from among crimes punishable by death would exempt some government officials, including lawmakers, from capital punishment should the death penalty be revived. CBB/rga
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