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Palace: House purge up to members
MANILA, Philippines - The Palace is leaving it up to the House of Representatives to strip its members of committee chairmanships for going against the administration-backed death penalty measure, which was passed early this week.
“ They are independent, so whether President Duterte supports them or not, they have the prerogative… to act independently,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday, following Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s threat of a House purge of those who went against the majority’s move to pass the death penalty bill.
Among those who voted “no” were Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao and Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato.
Arroyo is a deputy speaker. Recto heads the civil service and professional regulation committee; Belmonte, the land use committee; and Bag-ao, the people participation committee. Sato is a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments.
The Makabayan bloc also did not vote for the restoration of the death penalty. The STAR erroneously reported earlier that Compostela Valley Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga was among the administration lawmakers who voted against HB 4727, but as it turned out, he voted “yes” to the measure restoring the death penalty for drug-related heinous crimes.
On the exclusion of rape and plunder from the list of crimes covered by capital punishment, Abella maintained that the President may have had his intentions, but he respects the processes at the House of Representatives.
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“He (Duterte) had a pretty comprehensive presentation in the past that he wanted certain things, certain crimes to be addressed,” Abella said.
“But I think he also understands that as far as it was explained, they passed the bill on a single issue. So he understands the process,” he added.
‘Nothing but a dud’
A senior pro-life opposition member of the House has described Alvarez’s threat to purge administration lawmakers who voted against the bill reviving death penalty as “nothing but a dud.”
“Who would be intimidated next time around by a leader who wields a dud?” Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman taunted the secretary-general of the ruling PDP-Laban party, under which all political parties have formed a super majority coalition in the chamber.
Lagman issued the statement after Alvarez held in abeyance his threat to make good his promise to boot Arroyo out after she voted against the re-imposition of the death penalty that President Duterte has consistently endorsed.
“The threat of Alvarez to oust those who would vote against the death penalty bill from their key leadership positions has turned out to be a mere scheming braggadocio,” Lagman noted. – With Delon Porcalla, Jess Diaz, Elizabeth Marcelo, Rhodina Villanueva