MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is dead serious on stripping lawmakers of their leadership titles if they will oppose the death penalty bill.
He said he would be removing the deputy speakership of former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because she is still opposing House Bill (HB) Number 4727.
“We have to replace her as deputy speaker,” said Alvarez in a press conference on Wednesday, February 8.
He said he already asked Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to speak to Arroyo.
It was under Arroyo’s term as president when the Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006.
Arroyo’s presidency also saw the country’s signing of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which bans participating countries from reimposing the capital punishment.
Alvarez had served as Arroyo’s Department of Transportation and Communications secretary from January 2001 to July 5, 2002.
Several opposition lawmakers already cautioned Alvarez against arm-twisting. They warned that insisting that the House leadership vote in favor of the death penalty bill might cost him the majority’s support.
But Alvarez is unfazed, saying: “Okay lang. Walang problema (It’s okay. I have no problem with that).”
‘Not a threat’
According to the Speaker, the public should not consider his statement concerning the House leadership as a threat.
“‘Wag niyo ipilit na threat ‘yun (Don’t insist that it’s a threat). No, I am not [making a threat]. It is the policy of the leadership… Because I am not forcing anyone to go with me,” said Alvarez.
He already relayed to congressmen who are part of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) that it is the party stand to support HB 4727.
PDP-Laban is the party of President Rodrigo Duterte, who considers the death penalty retribution for victims.
Alvarez said PDP-Laban members who will not be supporting the bill are “free to resign.” – Rappler.com