SOME leaders of the House of Representatives, including Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, are in danger of losing their posts after they voted against the passage of the death penalty bill.
Voting 216-54-1, the House approved on third and final reading House Bill 4727 or the bill seeking to reinstate the capital punishment on some drug offenses.
Arroyo aside, the other House leaders who voted against the bill that was principally authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez were Reps. Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas (chairwoman of the House committee on civil service), Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna (chairman of the House committee on environment and natural resources), Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers (chairman of the House committee on public information), Arlene Bag-ao of Dinagat Island (chairwoman of the House committee on people participation), Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman of Anak Mindanao (head of the House committee on Muslim Affairs), Josephine Ramirez-Sato of Occidental Mindoro, a member of the Commission on Appointments, Mariano Michael Velarde Jr. of Buhay (chairman of the House committee on overseas workers’ affairs), and Henedina Abad of Batanes (chairwoman of the House committee on government reorganization.
Leyte Rep. Imelda Romualdez Marcos also thumbed down the passage of the death penalty bill.
On the other hand, the Liberal Party stalwarts such as former speaker and Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr., LP vice chairman and head of the House special committee on the West Philippine Sea and Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo supported the passage of the measure.
“When the death penalty law was enacted during the time of President Fidel Ramos for a number of reasons, I voted yes. I am only being consistent with that vote I made before,” Belmonte said.
The House passed the measure following the motion of House senior deputy majority leader and Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said before the voting on the passage of the bill that the reorganization will take place next week.
Alvarez said the House leaders who voted against the administration measure will be replaced, but may opt to stay with the majority.
“They will be replaced outright. There is no need to talk to them,” Alvarez said.
The opponents of the death penalty bill questioned the manner that the House leadership approved the measure.
Reps. Lito Atienza of the Buhay party-list and Edcel Lagman of Albay expressed dismay with the rushing of the bill’s passage.
“You terminated period of interpellation abruptly and against the rules of the House. We should have been allowed to explain,” Atienza said.
Lagman said “the third and final reading of the death penalty bill was premature.”
“It is not seasonable as it violates the three-day notice rule prescribed by Section 26(2) of Article VI of the Constitution,” he said.
Lagman also said the opposition would question the death penalty bill once it was enacted.
Alvarez said Lagman had all the right to go to the Supreme Court.
The proposed “Death Penalty Law” defines heinous crimes as “grievous, odious and hateful offenses, which by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and orderly society.”
Under the measure, the punishment of death will be imposed on the following offenses: (1) the importation of dangerous drugs; (2) the sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs; (3) the maintenance of a den, dive or resort where any dangerous drug is used or sold; (4) the manufacture of dangerous drugs; and (5) the possession of 10 grams or more of dangerous drugs.
The death penalty will also be enforced when the crime is committed under the influence of dangerous drugs, provided that the offense committed is punishable by reclusion temporal or 12 years and one day up to 20 years.
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