Speaker Alvarez confident death penalty bill will get swift OK in House

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2017 01:04 AM

MANILA — House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Tuesday he is confident that the bill reimposing the death penalty will pass the House of Representatives, adding that he expects a debate of just 30 days at the Lower House.

"Iyung sa death penalty of course we will allow yung debate para marinig iyung magkabilang panig. Hopefully siguro matagal na siguro yung mga 30 days matapos natin dito sa House," Alvarez said.

(We'll allow a debate over the death penalty bill so we can hear both sides. Hopefully, we're looking at maybe 30 days until we come to a decision.)

Alvarez is optimistic the debates won't take long, despite opposing lawmakers' promise they will block the bill at all costs.

Opposition leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Tuesday there are at least 50 lawmakers who may question the bill during interpellations.

Alvarez left open the possibility of limiting capital punishment to drug-related offenses.


Lagman earlier revealed some administration stalwarts are among those opposed to 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 we're 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 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.

Alvarez downplayed claims that many lawmakers are against the bill but admitted he has not done his own count.

“I’m very confident na papasa. Meron tayong coalition, meron tayong supermajority. Kung may lilihis siguro mga 5 or 10,” he said.

Conscience vote

Aware that some lawmakers belonging to the supermajority oppose capital punishment, 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,” Lagman said.

The Speaker was non-committal when asked if he will allow a conscience vote instead of calling for party votes, adding he has not yet started consulting his fellow lawmakers.

Alvarez, nonetheless, said there will be no arm twisting or consequences on the congressmen who will vote against the bill.