Alvarez denies ‘cracks’ in supermajority after death penalty vote
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday denied that the supermajority coalition in the House of Representatives is on the verge of a break-up following the vote on the death penalty.
In an ambush interview, Alvarez denied Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman’s claim that the “cracks” in the supermajority are showing following the death penalty bill, which was approved on final reading with 217 votes but opposed by 54 lawmakers, most of which were members of the majority.
“Baka ‘yung ulo niya ang may crack (Maybe it is his head which has cracks),” Alvarez said, laughing.
“Lahat naman ino-oppose niya eh. Kaya may crack na siguro (He always opposes everything, anyway. That’s why maybe there are cracks in his head already),” he added.
Lagman said the results of the death penalty vote exposed the cracks within the supermajority coalition.
“There is a visible crack in the supermajority because most of those who voted against the death penalty came from the supermajority,” Lagman said.
Lagman said the leadership’s move to strip anti-death penalty lawmakers of their key house posts is an “undemocratic… virtual institutionalization of the stifling of dissent.”
“It is anathema to legislative assembly where free discourse must be encouraged and fulfilled,” Lagman said.
Of the 52 solons voting no to the death penalty, 43 lawmakers were from the supermajority coalition. They stand to lose their committee positions.
Meanwhile, of the 217 lawmakers who voted for the death penalty, 204 were from the supermajority.
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: Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero (mother of Senator Francis Escudero) who chairs the basic education and culture committee, 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.
Lagman earlier 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 on drug-related offenses (except possession of drugs, which is punishable with life imprisonment). JE
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