LP not providing replacements for ousted House committee heads

Mara Cepeda

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LP not providing replacements for ousted House committee heads
LP secretary-general Jose Christopher Belmonte says it is 'heartwarming' that none of the party's lawmakers are willing to take the place of their ousted colleagues

MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts said none of their colleagues are willing to take the place of lawmakers who were ousted by the House leadership for not voting in favor of the death penalty. 

“Nope, walang may gustong tumanggap (no one wants to accept),” Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte told Rappler. 

Belmonte, LP’s secretary-general, is one of 4 LP legislators stripped of committee chairmanships for not saying yes to the controversial death penalty measure, House Bill (HB) Number 4727. (READ: What happened behind closed doors to the death penalty bill

He used to head the special committee on land use.

Apart from Belmonte, also ousted were the following:

  • Henedina Abad, Batanes (government reorganization)
  • Kaka Bag-ao, Dinagat Islands (people’s participation committee)
  • Vilma Santos-Recto, Batangas 6th District (civil service and professional regulation committee) 

A total of 12 House leaders were removed from their posts after the House voted 214-54-1 in favor of HB 4727. This came after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s pronouncement that he would replace them should any deputy speaker or committee chairperson vote no, abstain from voting, or be absent from the proceedings. 

Abad was absent, while Belmonte, Bag-ao, and Recto voted no. 

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas already asked the political parties of those replaced to submit a list of nominees for the committee chairmanships. 

But LP stalwart and Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo said that “all our members we consulted were unwilling.” 

The Marikina 2nd District representative got to keep his post because he voted yes to the death penalty bill. (READ: 4 death penalty votes that surprised us)

Both Belmonte and Quimbo, however, refused to answer, when asked, what their non-submission of a list of nominees would mean for LP.

Belmonte only replied, “Nakakatuwa lang [at] nakakataba ng puso, at least on this point, ang mga kasamahan namin sa LP. Wala talagang may gustong tumanggap.”

(Our colleagues at LP, at least on this point, make us feel good. No one really wants to accept.)

Twenty-seven out of the 32 LP lawmakers signed a coalition agreement with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan. The remaining 5 are part of the opposition bloc. 

But their counterparts at the Senate already left the majority bloc after they were stripped of their leadership titles. Senator Leila de Lima, the President’s fiercest critic, is also in jail for drug charges.

LP congressmen said they will be deciding whether or not to bolt the majority bloc after the House votes on the death penalty bill. – 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.