House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez denied Wednesday allegations that Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's possible ouster as Deputy Speaker over the death penalty is connected to talk that she will be the next Speaker of the House.
"Ay, kalokohan po yan, Ka Gerry. Hindi po ganoon. Alam naman po natin na malayo sa katotohanan," he said in a radio DZMM interview.
Alvarez said Mrs. Arroyo does not seem interested in the top House job.
Arroyo has also dismissed the reports to that effect. The former president earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte is OK with her decision to vote against the measure.
Alvarez said Arroyo won't be the only deputy speaker who might be replaced if they vote against the death penalty. He said Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya is also opposed to the death penalty.
For now, he said the two remain Deputy Speakers until they cast their votes on the bill. "Hindi pa naman nagbotohan doon sa plenaryo," he said.
Alvarez earlier told congressmen that those in leadership posts must vote with the leadership, which has been pushing for the revival of the death penalty.
"Ang sinasabi ko lang for the Deputy Speaker kailangan ay sumama sila doon sa liderato, pati yung mga Chairman ng mga respective committees. Kasi hindi po maganda kung deputy speaker ka, haluan ka doon sa liderato, kasama ka doon sa liderato. Hindi ho magandang tingnan," he said.
"So ang sabi hindi naman po natin pipilitin. Hindi ho tayo mamimilit. Kung ayaw talaga nila, wala tayong magagawa. Kaya lang syempre maghahanap tayo ng kapalit."
Deputy Speakers are elected and replaced by a vote on the floor.
There are currently 14 deputy speakers. Alvarez reiterated that covered by the admonition to vote for the measure covers committee chairmen.
Alvarez fended off accusations that the fight over the death penalty bill has become undemocratic. He also said he is not concerned about losing his Speakership over the death penalty.
The Speaker also noted how critics of the death penalty have delayed the deliberations in congress.
"Binibigyan natin ng pagkakataon yung tutol sa panukala ng death penalty, na ipahayag yung kanilang saloobin. Ngunit nalulungkot ako dahil ito ay ginagamit nila para i-delay yung proseso at imbes na mag-debate at mag-interpolate ay dini-delay ang proseso. Kaya… ngunit tayo ay meron talagang schedule, so pag nandoon na tayo sa schedule natin at patuloy pa yung ginagawa nila ay kailangan na pagbobotohan natin yan," he said.
Alvarez said he just wants the matter put to a vote. He said he is looking at putting the bill to a vote on 3rd and final reading by the adjournment of Congress in March.
"Para once and for all, matapos tayo. Hindi yung nauubos din yung panahon ng Kongreso para lang doon sa isang panukalang batas na yan," he said.