Transgender solon Roman on death penalty vote: Politics is compromise
Transgender congresswoman Geraldine Roman on Wednesday broke her silence on criticisms online following her vote to approve the death penalty bill on final reading.
In a talk with students at the Ateneo De Manila University and videos of which surfaced online, Roman addressed criticisms that she flipflopped on her position about the bill restoring capital punishment.
Roman earlier said she opposed the bill and respected the right of convicts for reformation. On Wednesday, she voted to approve the bill on third and final reading.
Roman said she had to bend to the views of her constituents in Bataan who favored the restoration of death penalty.
“I am part of the world of politics. And politics is compromise. As much as I would want to follow my conscience to vote against the death penalty, I have the interests of the constituents, of my constituents in Bataan in mind,” Roman said.
Roman said she held a survey among her constituents and found out that 85 percent of them were in favor of restoring the death penalty.
“Shortly before the voting, three weeks before the voting, I conducted a survey, hoping that I would have the perfect alibi to justify before the House leadership my decision then to vote against the death penalty,” Roman said.
“But 85 percent voted in favor. I explained to them all the aspects that surround the death penalty—moral and technical aspects, practical aspects, state of our judicial system, but to no avail,” she added.
Roman said she entered politics with her ideals intact, but she has to make compromises now that she represents not just the LGBT sector but her constituents as well.
She feared that her constituents would be deprived of funding if she voted against the administration measure.
She cited the threat of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that lawmakers who would vote against the death penalty would be stripped of their committee positions.
Roman is the main proponent of the bill prohibiting discrimination based on gender in the House of Representatives.
“The question is, is it about me and my personal convictions, or is it about the people that I am representing?… Try and understand, try and understand that this is not an easy thing for me to deal with,” Roman said.
“Times are different. We have heard the House leadership speak in a meeting saying that there will be consequences for those who will vote no, or those who will absent themselves on the voting, those who will abstain,” she added.
Roman gained a following among the youth after she was elected as the first transgender representative in Congress’ history.
She is a member of a political family in Bataan. She is the daughter of the late Rep. Tony Roman Jr. and former Rep. Herminia Roman.
She had undergone sex reassignment surgery and legally changed her name and gender as early as the 1990s. JE