Belmonte: It’s a conscience vote for LP on death penalty
Former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has broken his silence on the death penalty bill, saying Liberals in the House of Representatives will vote according to their conscience, notwithstanding the threat to strip ranking officials of their positions.
“It’s a conscience vote for the LP (Liberal Party) in Congress,” the Quezon City congressman told the Inquirer in a text message.
“Losing the assignment should not be the primordial consideration in a conscience vote,” he added, without categorically stating whether he would vote for or against the controversial measure restoring the death penalty.
Belmonte is chair of a special House committee on the South China Sea maritime concerns, and he stands to lose the chairmanship if he votes against the bill.
Early this month, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez warned all other House leaders in the Duterte-controlled supermajority to toe the line on the death penalty if they did not wish to lose their committee chairmanships or deputy speakerships.
Alvarez, a bosom buddy of the President, said he would not allow a conscience vote among the parties belonging to the ruling majority in the 293-seat chamber.
That put LP in an awkward position, as most of its members are against the death penalty, including its chairperson, Vice President Leni Robredo.
On Wednesday, LP finally came out with a party stand maintaining their opposition to the death penalty bill, although its members in the majority were given leeway to vote according to their personal beliefs.
According to the LP’s position paper, the party shall strongly “maintain our stand against the reimposition of the death penalty, and support all opposition against the passage of a death penalty bill.”
“This has been our stand since 2006, when we voted to abolish the death penalty, and the reasons for our vote remain,” the party said.
Among the grounds it cited are: “It has repeatedly proven to be ineffective; it is overwhelmingly inflicted on the poor and powerless; it is imposed by a fallible and flawed justice system, and ultimately, it violates international laws the Philippine nation has sworn to abide by.”
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