Alvarez ‘very confident’ House will pass death penalty bill

Mara Cepeda
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez says the House leadership will not resort to arm-twisting to get congressmen to support the proposed reimposition of capital punishment in the country

'VERY CONFIDENT.' Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez greets the media at a press conference on January 17, 2017. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez expressed confidence that that the House of Representatives will pass the bill seeking to reimpose the death penalty, citing the 267 lawmakers in the majority bloc. 

I am very confident na maipapasa.  Meron tayong coalition. Merong tayong supermajority. Kung meron mang [lawmakers na] lilihis doon, siguro mga 5 or 10,” Alvarez said in a press conference on Tuesday, January 17. 

(I am very confident that this will be passed. We have a coalition. We have the supermajority. If there will be lawmakers who will stray from that position, maybe they’re just 5 or 10.)

Restoring capital punishment for heinous crimes is a priority measure of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: A lethal mix? Death penalty and a ‘flawed, corrupt’ justice system)

Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, chairperson of the House committee on justice, hopes the measure would be passed on 3rd and final reading by June.  

Alvarez originally wanted the House to pass the bill in December 2016, but later yielded to calls to extend the debates to this year. 

We will, of course, allow ‘yung [debates on the] death penalty para madinig natin ‘yung magkabilang panig. Hopefully siguro, matagal na siguro ‘yung 30 days para matapos natin dito sa House,” said the Davao del Norte 1st District representative. 

(We will, of course, allow the debates on the death penalty so we will hear both sides. Perhaps 30 days is long enough for it to be finished here in the House.) 

Opposition lawmakers are claiming they can gather at least 50 congressmen opposing the reimposition of the death penalty to interpellate the bill’s proponents during the House debates. 

Alvarez  earlier said he would push for a party vote on the death penalty; meaning, congressmen would vote on the matter based on the collective stand of their respective parties. 

On Tuesday, the Speaker said he had yet to meet with the party leaders in the House on the capital punishment measure.  

Hindi pa. Hayaan muna natin na ‘yung deliberations and debate sa floor para malaman natin ‘yung sentiments ng members (Not yet. We will allow the deliberations and the debates on the floor to know the sentiments of the members),” he said.

He brushed aside suggestions that the House leadership would resort to arm-twisting should some congressmen remain firmly opposed to the proposed measure.

Wala. Hindi magkakaroon (None. It will not happen),” Alvarez said. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.