• House chiefs’ ouster over death penalty ‘not good’

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    Removing House committee chiefs who voted against the death penalty bill would not be good for Congress, a leader of the chamber said on Monday.

    Rep. Randolph Ting of Cagayan made the statement in connection with a threat of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte that he will oust committee chairmen opposing the bill restoring the death penalty for drug dealers and authorities planting drugs as evidence.

    “I would say that the situation is at status quo. It would not do anything good for Congress. As one of the chairmen, I did not feel intense pressure [to vote for the death penalty measure]. What he [Alvarez] said was a strategy; it is politics,” Ting, chairman of the House Committee on Labor, told reporters.

    “But now that the vote has been rendered, the situation will change, for sure,” he said.

    The House of Representatives has approved the death penalty bill on third and final reading last week via a 217-54 vote and one abstention.

    Rep. Evelina Escudero of Sorsogon, chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, voted no but she is yet to be replaced.

    But Alvarez’s threat did not alarm her, saying she will be willing to face the consequences of her actions.

    “We will accept whatever the Speaker decides to do with our positions. So far, I haven’t received any notice about that. I am not really offended because whatever we do [in our capacity as the head of a committee], that would be dependent on the House leadership,” Escudero, mother of Sen. Francis Escudero, said.

    “I have my convictions. They tried to convince me, but my conscience cannot [go]for it. Other measures that the leadership would have brought before Congress would have merited a consideration, but not death penalty,” according to Escudero, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, an ally of the super majority bloc in Congress.

    Other House leaders who voted no to death penalty billinclude Deputy Speaker Gloria macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga, Commission on Appointments member Josephine Sato, House Committee on Public Information Chairman Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list, House Committee on Women and Gender Equality Chairman Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela party-list, House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas, House Committee on People Participation Chairman Arlene Bag-ao of Dinagat Island, House Committee on Muslim Affairs Sitti Hataman of Anak Mindanao party-list and House Special Committee on Land Use Chairman Kit Belmonte of Quezon City.

    Rep. Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga City said his vote in favor of the death penalty is based on his consultations with his constituents.

    Lobregat, however, added that there have been protests in Zamboanga City, including at Ateneo de Zamboanga, because of his yes vote on the death penalty bill. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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