House leaders vs death penalty to be replaced in May

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he will be replacing all House leaders who did not vote in favor of the death penalty when session resumes in May.

"Siguro pagbalik na namin from the break. Hindi makakalimutan [‘yan] because we asked the respective parties to submit their nominees for the replacements," said Alvarez in a chance interview on Wednesday, March 15.  

(We will do it perhaps when we return from the break. We won't forget that because we asked the respective parties to submit their nominees for the replacements.) 

The Speaker had said that all deputy speakers and committee chairpersons who would be voting no, would abstain from voting, or be absent during the 3rd reading of the death penalty bill would be stripped of their leadership titles

Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 11 committee chairpersons were later ousted from their leadership posts during the session on Wednesday evening. Arroyo, who said no the measure, abolished the death penalty when she was still president.

Lawmakers approved House Bill Number 4727 on 3rd and final reading last week with a vote of 217-54-1. (READ: LIST: How congressmen and women voted on the death penalty bill

The 17th Congress will be going on a Lenten break from March 18 to May 1. They will be resuming session on May 2. 

"Well, if I'm burning bridges, then so be it. Wala tayong magagawa diyan (We can't do anything about that)," said Alvarez.

He said, however, that he will be "reasonable" enough to consider valid reasons of House leaders who were absent. 

The 217 lawmakers who voted in favor of HB 4727 already said they will give Alvarez their "full support" whatever he decides on the replacements. 

Apart from Arroyo, the following committee chairpersons said no to HB 4727:

Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato, a member of the House contingent to the Commission on Appointments (CA), voted against the death penalty as well.

Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo, another CA member, skipped the proceedings.

The following committee chairpersons were also absent during the vote: 

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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