HOUSE leaders on Wednesday pushed through with a revamp that punished allies who failed to vote in favor of the Palace-backed death penalty bill, including former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who gave up her post as deputy speaker for Central Luzon.
House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas declared seats vacant for 10 committee chairmanships and Arroyo’s post as deputy speaker.
The shakeup involves the House committees on civil service, government reorganization, Muslim affairs, natural resources, overseas workers affairs, land use, people’s participation, poverty alleviation, women and gender equality, public information and basic education and culture.
Arroyo, in a statement, said she has no regret for voting against the death penalty.
“The issue required a vote based solely on conscience and the deepest of personal convictions,” she said.
“The issue of the death penalty is unlike any other, in that it touches the core of each person’s fundamental view of human life,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo said she voted against House Bill 4727 despite her support for Duterte and Alvarez.
“I thank the President for his expression of understanding late last year regarding my position on the issue. I also thank the speaker for the honor of having served as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. It meant much to me. As a plain congresswoman I will continue to do all I can to support both President Duterte and Speaker Alvarez,” Arroyo said in her statement.
A lawmaker who asked to remain anonymous said Arroyo resigned as deputy speaker before Fariñas’ announcement.
Fariñas made the announcement with 239 lawmakers in attendance during the last session day. Arroyo was present at the session hall.
Congress adjourns session starting March 17 for a Lenten break and resumes on May 3.
Before the announcement, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the revamp would spare no one.
“If I am burning bridges, then so be it. We can’t do anything about that,” Alvarez told reporters.
Alvarez said the replacement will be done when session resumes in May.
Aside from Arroyo, those who will be replaced include Reps.Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas, civil service and professional regulation; Sitti Turabin-Hataman of Anak Mindanao party-list, Muslim affairs; Henedina Abad of Batanes, government reorganization; Carlos Zarate, Bayan Muna party-list, natural resources; Mariano Velarde, Buhay party-list, overseas workers affairs; Antonio Tinio, ACT Teachers party-list, public information; Carlos Zarate, Bayan Muna party-list, natural resources; Kaka Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands, people’s participation; Jose Christopher Belmonte of Quezon City, land use special; Evelina Escudero of Sorsogon, basic education and culture; Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Party, poverty alleviation; Jose Christopher Belmonte of Quezon City, land use special; Kaka Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands, people’s participation; Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Party, poverty alleviation; Emmeline Aglipay-Villar of DIWA party-list, women and gender equality; and Antonio Tinio, ACT Teachers party-list, public information.
Escudero, mother of Senator Francis Escudero, was replaced by Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano IV. Escudero was appointed as vice chairman of the basic education and culture committee.
The House passed the bill on third and final reading by a 217-54 vote and one abstention.
Republic Act 7659 or the Death Penalty Law was abolished in 1986 during the term of President Corazon Aquino. It was restored by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1993, and was suspended again in 2006 by President Arroyo.(M. Cruz, MS)