THE absence of a solid stance on the death penalty bill among majority bloc lawmakers will kill its chances of passage, opposition congressmen declared Tuesday.
Representatives Edcel Lagman of Albay and Teodoro Baguilat of Ifugao claimed that about 50 lawmakers would line up to debate the bill’s proponents, even as Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte said he was confident the bill would hurdle Congress in just 30 days.
“If there will be a conscience vote, then definitely, it will not pass. But the Speaker wants a party vote, which is a pressure vote. So members of the House [from the majority]who are against the death penalty may be pressured to not attend the session anymore [when it is time to cast the vote],” Lagman told reporters.
Lagman is familiar with such maneuver, which led to the passage of his pet Reproductive Health (RH) bill in 2012 after some members of the then ruling Liberal Party (LP) did not show up during voting on the divisive birth-control measure.
At that time, the LP was overwhelmingly for the RH bill, which became Republic Act 10354.
In the current 17th Congress, the ruling party is President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban, of which Alvarez is a member. There are at least 62 PDP-Laban members in the House of Representatives, but the PDP-Laban is just one of the parties under the “Super Majority” coalition that includes the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Unity Party, LP and Lakas-CMD.
Also part of the Super Majority coalition is the anti-death-penalty Makabayan bloc of party-list groups Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan, Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Anakpawis.
In a news conference, Alvarez admitted he had yet to talk with PDP-Laban’s coalition partners but said he was confident the President’s allies would toe the line.
“I am very confident that we can pass it because we have a coalition, the Super Majority. If ever there will be people who will deviate from that, their number would just reach to as much as 10,” Alvarez said.