(Last of two components)
When the death penalty invoice was put to a vote within the House of Representatives early this month, Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero had to choose between conscience and committee.
Escudero selected conscience, giving up her management of the fundamental training and tradition committee.
She was among the many 54 lawmakers who voted “no” to House Bill No. 4727, which might impose life sentence to death on drug-related offenses.
“I have my own convictions and probably they were trying to convince (me), but … it’s my conscience,” she stated.
Her political occasion, Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), allowed members to vote in line with their conscience, she identified.
NPC is a member of the supermajority coalition within the House.
Escudero stated her place on the death penalty was one thing she couldn’t compromise.
“Other measures that the House leadership would bring to Congress probably can be discussed, but not this death penalty,” she stated.
Days later, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez made good on his menace to take away antideath penalty lawmakers from their committee and management positions—not sparing even former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was ousted as Deputy Speaker for voting “no” to HB 4727.
Escudero shrugged off Alvarez’s choice.
“[W]e accept whatever the Speaker would decide, what to do with us,” she stated.
Besides the NPC, the members of the House coalition are the National Unity Party, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, a party-list bloc, and even the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party (LP).
In a memorandum of settlement signed by the events earlier than the beginning of the Duterte administration, the “coalition for change” vowed to assist the House management’s legislative agenda.
Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas believed it was the conscience of the lawmakers that satisfied them to vote for the death penalty.
Among the 217 lawmakers who voted for the measure, 204 have been from the bulk bloc, or those that voted for Alvarez for the speakership.
Several lawmakers softened their stance on the death penalty when it was restricted to drug-related offenses.
At least 80 of the 217 prodeath lawmakers got here from the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), whose membership rose from simply three within the earlier Congress to greater than 90 now within the 292-strong chamber.
Some lawmakers maintained that their vote was primarily based on conscience, not on their want to hold the chairmanship of committees.
“As chair, I did not feel the pressure [from the leadership] anyway,” stated Cagayan Rep. Randolph Ting, head of the committee on labor and employment.
“Maybe like in all strategies, it’s just politics,” he added.
Although the LP took a stance in opposition to the death penalty, its members have been allowed to vote primarily based on their conscience.
Fifteen LP members led by Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, its highest official within the 17th Congress, voted “no,” whereas one other 15 voted “yes.”
Quimbo stood to lose his deputy speakership post if he voted “no.”
“It’s a principled approval to the proposed bill. No pressure whatsoever,” stated Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, chair of the Metro Manila improvement committee.
Castelo stated he accepted of the death penalty for drug offenses, which he thought-about the foundation of most heinous crimes.
“I based my decision on what my conscience dictated, taking into account only the best interests of my constituents,” he stated.
Two different LP lawmakers hid behind the supposed outcomes of a survey of their constituents.
“I am voting for death penalty based on my survey in my district, not my party,” North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco stated in a textual content message.
Catamco chairs the indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples committee.
Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, a religious Catholic, defied the Church’s place in opposition to the death penalty invoice, thus reaping a backlash from her younger supporters on-line.
Roman gained a following among the many youth as the primary transgender lawmaker.
Although she was in opposition to the death penalty, Roman stated her vote was primarily based on the conscience of her constituents.
And there was politics.
“I am part of the world of politics. And politics is compromise. As much as I would want to follow my conscience to vote against the death penalty, I have the interests of my constituents in Bataan in mind,” Roman stated at a discussion board in Ateneo de Manila University.
In the supermajority, there have been “rogue” ones.
Forty-three of the 54 antideath penalty lawmakers have been from the bulk bloc.
Ten have committee and management positions. They have been faraway from their posts for voting in opposition to the invoice.
Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad and Diwa Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar have been absent from the voting, however they nonetheless misplaced their posts.
In a tv interview, Speaker Alvarez stated he needed to implement his coverage of stripping lawmakers of their chairmanship of committees for voting in opposition to the death penalty invoice.
“What I’m asking for is just respect my right to lay down the policy as Speaker of the House of Representatives,” he stated.
Alvarez has incurred criticisms for his “strongman rule” within the House.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a vocal death penalty critic, slammed Alvarez for his “tyrannical” rule, calling the management “bullies” and “puppets.”
Lagman stated the variety of majority lawmakers in opposition to the death penalty measure was proof of the “cracks” inside the administration coalition.
“There is a visible crack in the supermajority because most of those who voted against the death penalty came from the supermajority,” Lagman instructed the Inquirer.
All the seven members of the impartial minority bloc voted in opposition to the invoice.
It would have been anticipated of one other bloc of the minority, led by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, to spearhead the opposition in opposition to the invoice.
But the bloc vowed to be a constructive associate of the bulk.
In truth, Suarez is a coauthor of the death penalty invoice.
The Suarez minority bloc delivered 12 of the 217 votes for the death penalty.
Only 4 voted in opposition to the invoice—essentially the most vocal of whom have been Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza.
Suarez stated the minority had no settlement with the bulk that the previous would assist increase the numbers for the death penalty.
“They did not even ask us,” he stated.
There was additionally no bloc choice to vote for or in opposition to the invoice. “The number (of minority members voting ‘yes’) is not that big. It’s a very close division,” he stated.
Lagman stated the supermajority was intimidated by the management into following its whims.
“That was still crucial because there was still the threat, the intimidation, which prevailed over most members of the supermajority,” he stated.
Reacting to Lagman branding the House management as bullies, Majority Leader Fariñas stated it was the minority that bullied the bulk into subverting the need of the individuals’s representatives.
“The people want the death penalty reimposed … but a minor group against it has been bullying the majority from expressing its will,” he stated. “It was high time for the majority to stand up to bullying tactics of a few members!”
For the management, the bulk rule is how democracy within the legislature is all about.
After all, it’s nonetheless a numbers recreation.