HOUSE Deputy Minority Leader Harry Roque on Thursday described as “plain and simple cowardice” the Super Majority coalition’s move to pass the death penalty bill through a voice vote or “viva voce.”
“They do not want their votes to be known by their constituents and they do not want their votes recorded in history. It’s plain and simple cowardice,” the Kabayan party-list congressman said in a text message.
“Definitely, it is not a resounding victory. Many of them are bothered by their conscience,” said Roque.
On Wednesday, motions made by anti-death penalty lawmakers for nominal voting were repeatedly denied by Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas and House Deputy Majority Leader Juan Bondoc of Pampanga.
Without nominal voting, there was no record of who were the lawmakers for and against the death penalty during the vote for second reading approval on Wednesday.
The House passed a bill that imposes capital punishment only on manufacturers and traders of illegal drugs.
Rep. Teodoro Baguilat of the Liberal Party said the viva voce vote showed that administration lawmakers were afraid of losing their committee chairmanships if they voted against the death penalty.
“It goes both ways. Those who will eventually vote against death penalty are hesitant to show their true colors to a vengeful majority leadership. Likewise, the cowed majority members who are voting for death penalty are ashamed of going against their conscience and belief system so they’d rather hide behind the viva voce mode,” Baguilat said.
House rules however state that nominal voting is required for third reading approval.
Suffrage and electoral reforms panel chairman Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list said those for or against the bill would be known on March 8 when the bill goes through a vote on third reading.
“This is where each and every member will be accountable and show their vote for the death penalty bill,” Tugna said.
Reacting to the House vote, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, a former Camarines Sur congresswoman, asked: Why impose death penalty when it doesn’t stop crime?
“There is no empirical data showing that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. Death penalty did not reduce crime incidents. Since death penalty does not improve the situation, then why do we still have to implement it?” Robredo said in an interview after the turnover of fishing boats in Maribojoc, Bohol as part of her office’s “Angat Buhay” program.
Limiting the death penalty to drug traffickers and manufacturers doesn’t make the measure acceptable, she said.