MANILA - There won't be changes to the House leadership anytime soon, since the caucus of those who voted for the death penalty bill decided to send back the matter to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for his final decision.
But House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said that should it finally happen as the caucus feels there should be no exemptions, which leaves open the possibility that there will be no changes at all.
Fariñas was asked if there will be any special consideration accorded to former President and incumbent House Deputy Speaker Gloria Arroyo who was among the 54 who voted no to the death penalty.
"Ang sinabi is all or nothing 'yun ang sentiments ng grupo. Dapat kasi nga once you exempt someone, mahirapan," Fariñas said.
(What they said was all or nothing. That was the sentiment of the group. Because if there is one exemption, it will be difficult.)
Fariñas addressed the media after the caucus assembled Monday afternoon and he appeared not to be in any rush. Asked about Arroyo, Fariñas explained that deputy speakers are selected by region.
"Ang mga deputy speakers are determined by the region. Di ba kasi for Central Luzon iyan. It will be, if ever, if ever baka sabihin niyo naman mapapalitan, di ko pa sinasabi 'yun, kung mapapalitan galing doon sa Central Luzon dahil deputy speaker for Central Luzon 'yun eh," Fariñas explained.
(The deputy speakers were determined by the region. It will be, if ever, if ever, I am not saying she will be changed, the new deputy speaker will be from Central Luzon as well.)
"It's not a party thing," Fariñas added.
Even the Makabayan bloc may get to keep its chairmanships by having other members of the block who are not currently in leadership positions take over even if they voted against the death penalty.
Fariñas added that leadership positions are divided among the parties of the majority.
"Kung magpapalit, di rin basta ora-orada 'yan though it's easier a bit now because nakatoka na sa parties. This party will just nominate and replace," Fariñas said.
(If there will be change, it won't happen in an instant. Although it will be easier since leadership is allocated to parties.)
However, Fariñas explained that membership in the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA), whose members have the rank of a committee chairman, is exempted from the policy since it is a constitutional body.
Liberal Party Rep. Josephine Sato voted against the death penalty.
"Yung kay Cong. Sato sa CA, CA is a constitutional body whose membership is determined by the number of seats each party occupies. So, there are 290 memberships, there are 12 seats in the CA. Each seat is equivalent to 24 members. The LP has 24 or more than 24, so they’re entitled to one seat," Fariñas explained.
Sato asked the majority not to push through with the leadership reorganization.
"If this pushes through, then the first victim of the death penalty would be the House of Representative as an institution. The bells will toll for the death of freedom and democracy in the House. In my case, however, I am in the commission as a designate of the Liberal Party," Sato said in a statement.
"The Commission on Appointments is a constitutional body whose membership is based on proportional representation of the political parties in the House. If I am removed based on my vote then that would be an infringement of the independence of the Commission," Sato added.
Despite all the issues and complications raised by the prospect of a leadership reshuffle, Fariñas explained that the caucus is generally supportive of the implementation of the policy.
"Ang nakakarami is kailangan ipatupad dahil they are saying, especially so that it was announced long before the voting and those who voted against knew the consequences of their actions," Fariñas said.
(The majority wants to implement the policy since they are saying, especially so that it was announced long before the voting and those who voted against knew the consequences of their actions.]
Fariñas said death penalty critic Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has been calling the majority names since the negative side lost the vote, but they will just leave him be without any sanctions.
He said there is more pressure on those who said yes to death penalty.
"In truth mas malaki po ang pressure sa amin na bumoto ng yes. In my case, my own bishop texted me; my archbishop texted me. And people have been approaching me. Ganun din 'yung iba," Fariñas said.