Solons deny being pressured to vote for death penalty bill
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives denied that they were pressured by the leadership to vote for the death penalty as members of the super majority in Congress.
In the weekly “Ugnayan sa Batasan” press briefing on Monday, Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero said she voted against House Bill 4727 seeking to reimpose the capital punishment even at the risk of losing her committee chairpersonship.
The mother of Senator Francis Escudero, Rep. Evelina chairs the basic education and culture committee and voted no to the death penalty even though Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said those who would vote against the bill would be stripped of their committee positions.
Escudero said the Nationalist People’s Coalition, of which she is a member, urged its members to vote based on their conscience.
She said she voted based on her conviction.
“Because I have my own convictions I guess and probably they were trying to convince pero… ang konsensiya ko kasi talaga (my conscience dictates that) I cannot go with it. Of course the other measures that the House leadership would bring to Congress probably, pwede namang mapag usapan naman ‘yun (that can be talked over), but not this death penalty,” Escudero said.
Cagayan Rep. Randolph Ting, chairperson of the House committee on labor and employment, said he did not feel pressure from the House leadership for him to vote for the death penalty.
Ting is among the 217 lawmakers who voted to approve the bill on third and final reading.
“As Chairman I did not feel the pressure anyway, so hindi naman ganun ka-intense ‘yung pressure (the pressure wasn’t that intense). Maybe like in all strategy, it’s just politics,” he said.
The House of Representatives 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.
The following 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, and 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 at risk of losing their committee chairpersonships are: 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 the voting. She chairs the committee on government reorganization. Alvarez said even lawmakers who abstained from voting are facing the ax.
Among the House leaders, only Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo stands to lose her deputy speaker post for voting no to the death penalty. It was during her term as president that the capital punishment was abolished.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman had chided Alvarez for reportedly backing out on his threat, but Alvarez said the House revamp would still push through but only at the right time.
The bill passed by the lower house seeks to limit the death penalty to drug-related offenses (except possession of drugs, which is punishable with life imprisonment). JE/rga
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