Purge of House leaders eyed next week — House Speaker

MANILA-- Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said the purge of dissident House leaders who voted against the administration's priority bill restoring the death penalty will start next week.

"Mapapalitan, hindi tatanggalin, (They will be replaced, not removed)," Alvarez said in an ambush interview.

With 216 votes on the affirmative, 54 negative and one abstention, majority of the congressmen passed House Bill No. 4727, or an act imposing the death penalty on drug-related crimes.

House leaders who voted against the measure include Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto chairing the committee on civilservice and professional regulation; Quezon City Rep. Kit Belmonte chairing the committee on land use; Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate chairing the committee on natural resources; ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio chairing the committee on public information; Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene Bag-ao chairing the committee on people participation; and Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez Sato as member of the Commission on Appointments.

These lawmakers are endangered of being stripped of their leadership posts for deviating from the Duterte administration's priority measure.

The seven-member Makabayan bloc voted against the bill, saying that the death penalty is anti-poor; a historic tool for suppressing political dissent; vulnerable to corruption; and ultimately, an ineffective deterrent against criminality.

Siquijor Rep. Rav Rocamora, in his "no" vote explanation, said the current criminal judicial system is not ready for the reimposition of the death penalty.

Rocamora said the current system is mired with flaws conducive to sending an innocent person to death.

"I say that the best deterrence is a competent criminal justice system that guarantees due process and make certain the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and services of sentence of those who are truly guilty," Rocamora said.

Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza, who is one of the zealous dissenters of the death penalty revival, said that the country's problematic justice system could endanger many innocent lives.

Meanwhile, House committee on dangerous drugs chair Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said he voted in favor of the death penalty because the proliferation of illegal drugs spurred several crimes in the country.

"I fully support this measure because like our President, I am fully aware of the dangers, as well as the irreparable damage, that this menace has brought our people, our children and how the entire future of our country has been compromised," Barbers said.

"Senseless killings, irreversible brain damage and a completely wasted populace are but some of the realities we face with the proliferation of illegal drugs," he added.

House special committee on the West Philippine Sea chair Feliciano Belmonte Jr. voted in the affirmative, noting that he was just being consistent with the vote he made during the time of President Fidel Ramos when the death penalty law was enacted.

Source: Philippines News Agency