House fires Arroyo, anti-death penalty solons

Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, along with other lawmakers, who voted against the re-imposition of death penalty was ousted by the House on Wednesday night.

But despite her removal as Deputy Speaker, Arroyo vowed to continue to support President Rodrigo Duterte and the leadership of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

In a surprise move, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas took the floor to move for the declaration as vacant the post of Arroyo.

Apart from Arroyo, the House also removed the following from their committee chairmanship:

· Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, Civil Service and Professional Regulation Committee Chairperson

· Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero, Basic Education and Culture Committee Chairperson

· Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, Land Use Committee Chairperson

· Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Natural Resources Committee Chairperson

· Anak Mindanao party-list Rep. Sitti Turabin-Hataman, Muslim Affairs Committee Chairperson

· Buhay party-list Rep. Mariano Michael Velarde Jr., Overseas Workers Affairs Committee Chairperson

· Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, People’s Participation Committee Chairperson

· Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus, Poverty Alleviation Committee Chairperson

· ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, Public Information Committee Chairperson

· Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad, Government Reorganization Committee Chairperson

· Diwa party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Women and Gender Equality Chairperson.

Fariñas also moved that Escudero, who was demoted to vice chairperson of the said committee, be replaced by Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano.

The motion was carried by the House after no objections were raised.

Except for Abad and Aglipay-Villar, those who were ousted voted ‘no’ to House Bill 4727, which seeks to re-impose death penalty on seven drug-related offenses.

Abad and Aglipay-Villar were absent during the voting on the third and final reading of the measure last March 7.

However, three other committee chairs, who were absent during the proceedings, still get to keep their posts.

These include Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino (national defense and security), Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (dangerous drugs) and AGRI Party-list Rep. Delphine Gan Lee (ethics and privileges).

After her ouster, Arroyo stood pat on her decision to oppose the death penalty measure saying that this was solely based on her conscience.

“The issue of the death penalty is unlike any other, in that it touches the core of each person’s fundamental view of human life. I believe that the issue required a vote based solely on conscience and the deepest of personal convictions,” Arroyo said in a statement.

During her administration, Arroyo abolished the death penalty after briefly supporting it as a deterrent for drug-related crimes and kidnappings.