Anti-death penalty House execs to get ax soon — Alvarez
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday said it was only a matter of time before Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other lawmakers would be relieved of their leadership and committee positions after voting against the restoration of the death penalty.
In an ambush interview with reporters, Alvarez said the House plenary would soon declare their positions vacant following his vow to strip anti-death penalty lawmakers of their juicy positions.
“Yung pag-uusapan namin ni majority leader papalitan natin yung chairmanship ng committee at saka yung mga deputy speakers na bumoto ng ‘No’,” Alvarez said.
(The majority leader and I will talk about changing the chairmanship of the committee and the deputy speakers who voted no to the death penalty.)
Asked about former president Arroyo, a deputy speaker, Alvarez said: “It is as good as day follows night.”
Alvarez said it’s too late for the lawmakers to appeal their removal from their positions.
“Policy is a policy,” Alvarez said.
For his part, majority leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Fariñas said he has talked to Alvarez and pleaded to let him handle the matter.
Fariñas said there will be no declaration of vacancy of seats yet, which would pave the way for a major shake-up in the lower House following the death penalty vote.
“No replacements in the leadership positions will happen, yet. I made a plea to the Speaker that he will allow me to handle the matter, which he has kindly granted while saying ‘only because I trust your judgment,'” Fariñas said.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier threatened to strip lawmakers voting no to the death penalty of their committee positions and deputy speaker posts.
There was talk about Arroyo replacing Alvarez as speaker because Alvarez might join the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte – a rumor both Alvarez and Arroyo denied.
The House of Representatives in a vote of 217 passed on final reading House Bill 4727 that seeks to restore the death penalty for drug-related offenses.
Fifty-four lawmakers voted against the bill.
Apart from Arroyo, some Makabayan lawmakers stand to lose their chairmanships for voting against the death penalty. These include Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, who chairs the public information committee; Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate (natural resources), and Gabriela Rep. Emmi De Jesus (poverty alleviation).
Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, Dinagat Island Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato are also expected to lose their key posts for voting no to the death penalty.
Santos-Recto chairs the civil service and professional regulation committee, Belmonte chairs the committee on land use, Bag-ao chairs the committee on people participation, while Sato is a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments.
Other lawmakers who voted against the death penalty with committee chairpersonships are: Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero (mother of Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero) who chairs the committee on basic education and culture, Anak Mindanao Rep. Sitti Turabin-Hataman (wife of ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman) who chairs the committee on Muslim affairs, and Buhay Rep. Mariano Michael Velarde (son of El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde) who chairs the overseas workers affairs committee.
Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad, the wife of former budget secretary Butch Abad, was absent from Tuesday’s voting. She chairs the committee on government reorganization.
Back for her last term as congresswoman after being detained for plunder over a charity funds mess during her presidency, Arroyo is the only deputy speaker who voted against the death penalty.
It was during her term when Congress abolished the death penalty in 2006.
The other deputy speakers voted yes to the death penalty: Taguig Rep. and former senator Pia Cayetano, Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia; Davao city Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano; Aambis Owa Rep. Sharon Garin; Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu; Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro; Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo; Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya; Palawan Rep. Frederick Abueg; South Cotabato Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez; Negros Occidental Rep. Mercedes Alvarez; and Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema.
Deputy speaker Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson did not vote because he was then the presiding speaker.
Under House rules, a deputy speaker is an ex-officio member of all House committees. The deputy speaker is the second highest official in the House of Representatives.
Other duties under the rules include:
- to assume the duties and powers of the Speaker when so chosen by a majority vote or by lot among themselves, as the case may be, in cases of absence or temporary incapacity of the Speaker, until such time that the Speaker returns to office and resumes work; and, in case of resignation, removal, permanent incapacity or death of the Speaker, until such time that a new Speaker is elected and qualified;
- to preside over the session when, even if present, the Speaker does not preside, or has not designated any other Member as temporary presiding officer
- to monitor, coordinate and facilitate action on measures filed, requests, and other concerns of Members representing constituencies to which they may be assigned by the Speaker
- to recommend to the Speaker appropriate policies, strategies and programs of action to improve the process of legislation and the quality of legislative measures, and to effectively address concerns of Members on matters affecting them, their constituencies, and the overall operations and integrity of the House
- to appoint personnel of the House when so authorized by the Speaker
- to perform such other duties and functions as may be assigned or delegated to them by the Speaker.
The former President won a seat in the House as Pampanga congresswoman while in detention for plunder over the alleged misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office intelligence funds from 2008 to 2010.
She held office at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center where she was detained for the duration of the previous Congresses.
Arroyo walked free at 6:30 p.m. on July 22 last year, after the Supreme Court dismissed her plunder case. The High Court ruled that her approval of the P366 million intelligence fund releases were only ministerial and did not constitute an “overt act” to commit plunder. CBB
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