MANILA – Not everyone in President Rodrigo Duterte's camp is backing his proposal to revive the death penalty.
House opposition leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman today revealed some administration stalwarts are among those opposed to the death penalty bill, with as many as 50 lawmakers ready to debate the bill.
“The debates will be very extensive particularly from those who are going to interpellate. I think we can produce even 50 interpellators. Matagal yun pero you know the leadership can always find ways under the rules of the House to stop the lengthy interpellation but were going to oppose that," Lagman said.
Lagman named Duterte's own allies, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles and PBA party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles, as among those opposing the bill.
“Yesterday Koko Nograles approached me and told me that he is against the reimposition of the death penalty and he has very good arguments why it should not be reimposed,” he said.
Jericho Nograles confirmed this in a text to message.
“I am pro-admin. However, I am also pro-life. I cannot support the death penalty bill,” he said.
Lagman said former president and now House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal is also opposed to the death penalty. Arroyo abolished the death penalty when she was president.
“She has made her announcement already that she is against the reimposition of the death penalty. It was former president Arroyo who signed the bill which became law abolishing the death penalty,” he said.
Arroyo has said she remains steadfast against the death penalty but would not debate with the administration on the measure.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, another opposition leader, said the Makabayan bloc, which is also supportive of the Duterte administration, is opposed to the death penalty.
“Marami kasi sa mga kasamahan natin their positions are based on their strong personal convictions. Very personal sa kanila yung issue ng death penalty that is why we expect them, even if they belong to the supermajority, to interpellate,” Baguilat said.
Baguilat added long debates can test the existence of a quorum during the plenary session.
ROUGH SAILING AHEAD
Lagman believes the bill faces rough sailing at the Senate.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, president of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, admitted on Monday that the upper chamber is divided on the issue.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Justice Committee which is tasked to handle the bill, said the Lower House will work on passing the bill regardless of the developments at the Senate.
Lagman said that, based on his experience fighting for the equally controversial reproductive health bill, debates for a single interpellator can drag on for weeks.
With some House lawmakers belonging to the supermajority showing opposition to the death penalty, Lagman urged the ruling PDP-Laban party and other major political parties to allow a conscience vote.
“If there would be a conscience vote then definitely it will not pass. But the Speaker wants a party vote which is a pressure vote so that is where some members of the House who are at present against the death penalty maybe pressured not anymore to attend the session in order to deny a negative vote,” he said.