House independence not eroded amid leadership shake-up

MANILA-- Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday denied undermining the independence of the House of Representatives from MalacaAang amid the ouster of Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 11 other committee chairmen for voting against the death penalty bill.

In a media interview, Alvarez said the revival of death penalty is a "leadership-sponsored bill" and he simply followed through with his hardline policy of stripping House leaders of their key posts for blocking the bill's passage.

"That is a leadership-sponsored bill, and if you are part of the leadership, I think kailangan naman ay sumuporta ka doon sa liderato (I think you really need to show support to the leadership)," Alvarez said.

"Ngayon kung ayaw mo sumuporta, siyempre maghahanap tayo ng mga tao na talagang susuporta sa liderato, (Now, if you don't want to support it, of course, we have to find lawmakers who would fully support the House leadership)," he added.

Alvarez also urged respect for his decision to implement his policy that he laid down as leader of the House, the same way as he respected the decision of lawmakers who voted against the death penalty bill.

Alvarez said replacements for ousted deputy speaker and committee chairmen will be based on the nominations of their own respective parties, noting that the House leadership is still in the process of evaluating the list to determine the suitable candidates.

Alvarez also said the House revamp will continue when Congress resumes session in May.

"Yung mga hindi pa po na-declare na vacant na mga positions, yun po ay itutuloy natin pagbalik po namin sa darating na May, (For other key positions that were not declared vacant, we will continue that this coming May)" said Alvarez.

On Wednesday night, the House leadership declared vacant the position of Deputy Speaker for Central Luzon, held by Arroyo, and 11 other committee chairmen.

The 11 other House leaders who were stripped of their committee chairmanships include:

(1) Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto -- committee on civil service and professional regulation;

(2) Quezon City Rep. Kit Belmonte -- special committee on land use;

(3) Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene Bag-ao -- committee on people's participation;

(4) Buhay Partylist Rep. Michael Velarde Jr. -- committee on overseas workers affairs;

(5) Amin Partylist Rep. Sitti-Djalia-Hataman -- committee on Muslim affairs;

(6) Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate -- committee on natural resources;

(7) ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio -- committee on public information;

(8) Gabriela Partylist Rep. Emmi De Jesus -- committee on poverty alleviation;

(9) Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad -- committee on government reorganization;

(10) Diwa Partylist Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar -- committee on women and gender equality;

(11) Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero -- committee on basic education and culture.

Alvarez said that so far, only Escudero has been replaced because the Nationalist People's Coalition has picked a definite nominee. Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano was elected to take her post.

Alvarez expressed confidence the super-majority coalition in the House would remain solid amid the revamp.

Source: Philippines News Agency