Lawmakers give Alvarez ‘full support’ in House reorganization

MANILA, Philippines – A majority of the 217 lawmakers who voted in favor of the death penalty bill will support Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s final decision on whether or not to replace House leaders who thumbed down the measure.

This is what the lawmakers agreed upon after Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas called for a closed-door caucus on Monday, March 13.

“What they want is to give to the Speaker the prerogative to impose any action he wishes to do and the group gives its full support to the Speaker,” said Fariñas in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Voting 217-54-1, the House approved on 3rd and final reading House Bill (HB) Number 4727, which reimposes the death penalty on 7 drug offenses. (LIST: How congressmen and women voted on the death penalty bill)

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had said that deputy speakers and committee chairpersons who will vote against, abstain, or be absent during the proceedings will be replaced

Last week, Fariñas said “no replacements yet” will happen since he made a plea to Alvarez to allow him to “handle the matter” as majority leader. 

During the caucus, it was only Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo who stood up to convince his colleagues not to allow the House reorganization. Quimbo voted yes to HB 4727 even if the Liberal Party is against the death penalty. (READ: 4 death penalty votes that surprised us)

But Fariñas said a majority of those who attended the meeting wanted the replacements to push through. 

The greater sentiment was sinasabi ng iba, kailangan i-implement kasi kung hindi, mawawalan ng discipline dahil marami pang bills [na kailangan naming i-tackle] (The greater sentiment was that there is a need to implement it because if we don’t, there will be a lack of discipline for the other bills we need to tackle),” said Fariñas. 

He said he will be discussing this Alvarez, who was at Malacañang with President Rodrigo Duterte at the time of the caucus.

Parties to decide on replacements

Should the Speaker decide to follow through on his pronouncement against the House leaders, Fariñas explained the replacement process will take some time. 

Kayo naman ang testigo how long it took me to form the committees dahil judicious akong magtrabaho eh, ‘yung talagang bina-balance ang everything. Kaya nakita niyo ang bagal bago na-constitute ang committees,” said Fariñas.  

(You are witness how look it took me to form the committees since I work judiciously, that I really balance everything. That’s why it took a long time before the committees were constituted.)

He said the list of replacements will be coming from the different political parties in the House.

Naka-toka na ‘yan sa mga parties. For example, this party will just nominate and replace. Accepted naman sa kanila,” said Fariñas.

(The positions have already been reserved for the parties. For example, this party will just nominate and replace. They have accepted that.)

As agreed upon among congressmen, every party in the House – Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, Lakas CMD, Liberal Party, Nacionalist Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Unity Party, and the party-list coalition – are entitled to a certain number of leadership posts. The number was based on how many members each party has in the House. – 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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