Lawmakers deny getting bonuses for voting for death penalty

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2017 02:57 PM | Updated as of Mar 16 2017 03:40 PM

MANILA - House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said there were no financial incentives given to lawmakers who voted in favor of the death penalty bill at the House of Representatives.

Asked by media, Alvarez said, "Saan? Pahingi, pahingi. Wala akong natatanggap eh. Wala, wala. Walang ganun. Walang ganun."

Alvarez's statement was echoed Wednesday by Surigao del Sur Second District Representative Johnny Pimentel, saying rumors of bonuses were not true. 

"I categorically say that there were no bonuses given to those who voted yes to the death penalty. That is not true," he said in an interview with ANC's "Headstart."

"We voted on our own conscience. For me, I believe that the bill is right and we should put it to law, and I voted yes without any financial consideration," he added.

Lower House last month voted to pass on third and final reading a bill that makes death penalty a possible punishment for drug-related offenses. The yes vote came from 217 members while 54 solons opposed it, and with one abstention.

In an unprecedented move, the House leaders who voted against the measure were removed from their posts on Wednesday. It was a move by Alvarez that Pimentel said the majority fully supports.

Among the twelve who were axed was Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, who joined Pimentel in the interview.

Zarate said his removal from the chairmanship post was an "expected consequence" of their "principled stand against death penalty."

"Even before, last year, when we expressed our support to the leadership of House Speaker Alvarez, we already told him that we can agree to disagree on some issues because we have to take a principled stand," he said.

Zarate said the move "freed" them in pushing further their advocacies "because there are a lot more pending bills now that we have to scrutinize, like lowering the age of criminal responsibility."

- with a report by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News