ALVAREZ’S EMPTY THREAT? Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman slams Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on his supposed ’empty’ threat against House leaders who thumbed down the death penalty bill. File photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman hit Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for his "empty threat" to unseat House leaders who would vote against the death penalty bill.
"Who would be intimidated next time around by a leader who wields a dud? The threat of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to oust those who would vote against the death penalty bill from their key leadership positions has turned out to be a mere scheming braggadocio," the opposition lawmaker said in a statement on Thursday, March 9.
With a vote of 217-54-1, the House of Representatives approved on 3rd and final reading the bill seeking to reimpose the death penalty via lethal injection, hanging, or firing squad. (READ: Who decides who lives? Lawmakers explain death penalty votes)
Alvarez had warned that all deputy speakers and committee chairpersons who voted no, abstained, or were absent during the vote will be replaced. (READ: 4 death penalty votes that surprised us)
But a day after the vote, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said "no replacements will happen yet" because he had asked the Speaker to allow him to "handle the matter."
Lagman claimed that Alvarez’s "intimidation and pressure" could not prevent committed anti-death penalty lawmakers from voting against House Bill Number 4727.
"The real targets of the Speaker’s intimidation were the more numerous members who lack courage and will to defy him," said Lagman.
"Now that the House leadership has achieved its objective of pressuring most of the majority coalition members to support the administration’s agenda, Alvarez has gone on a ‘benevolent’ retreat," he added.
The House leadership, however, dismissed Lagman’s claims.
In a text message to Rappler, Alvarez said it was "too early" for Lagman to make such statements. He maintained that the concerned lawmakers would be replaced but did not say when.
Fariñas did not mince words in criticizing the leader of the House battle against HB 4727, saying Lagman was sowing "pure intrigue smacking of a self-proclamation of a monopoly of virtues."
"Where does one get the virtue of calling his colleagues that don’t share his views ‘faint-hearted and ambivalent representatives’ and ‘more numerous members who lack courage and will?’ I cannot believe that a senior and veteran legislator can call his 217 colleagues who did not share his views such insulting and demeaning terms," said Fariñas.
He then brought up an instance during the period of debates on HB 4727.
Fariñas ended up moving to close the debate after Lagman repeatedly tried to replace the provisions imposing the punishment of "reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment) to death" with "reclusion temporal (12 to 20 years in prison) to reclusion perpetua."
"Yet, they were claiming that my remarks, that their amendments, were not honest-to-goodness, were unparliamentary! I assailed their amendments but most certainly not their character, integrity, honor, or motives," said Fariñas.
According to Fariñas, Alvarez is "simply showing the qualities of a good leader."
"While he has made a sound policy statement, he is not hesitant to review it upon the recommendation of his man on the ground. I am the majority leader and run the affairs on plenary. Like a good administrator, he has to show his trust and confidence in me by allowing me some leeway to run things," said Fariñas.
The Majority Leader said he had to apologize to Alvarez because he was the one who recommended that the lawmakers be appointed as deputy speakers and committee chairpersons. – Rappler.com