Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said on Sunday that Alvarez was just “standing his ground” in pushing for one of the major legislative thrusts of President Rodrigo Duterte in the lower chamber regarding his criticism about his uncompromising position on the death penalty bill.
“Kung ano ‘yung mga binibitawang salita ni Speaker Bebot ito’y dahil sa sa kanyang dedikasyon at sa kanyang paniniwala sa mga polisiya ng ating Pangulo,” said Andanar over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
“Palagay ko ay si Speaker Bebot Alvarez is just standing his ground dahil alam naman natin na si Pangulong Duterte at si Speaker Alvarez think along the same line pagdating sa mga polisiya,” he added.
“Kaya nga nandiyan siya as Speaker of the House dahil siguro hindi nagkakalayo ang kanilang prinsipyo, ‘yung kanilang mga polisiya para sa ating bansa,” Andanar said.
Alvarez has drawn negative comments and criticisms after he threatened colleagues opposing the measure to revive capital punishment for heinous crimes to be stripped as members of the Duterte-controlled supermajority of deputy speakerships and committee chairmanships.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former president and now Pampanga Representative is she opposes could be included to those who could be replaced, said Alvarez. It was pointed out that it was during Arroyo’s term as president that the death penalty was abolished.
Andanar, when asked about the move of Duterte’s allies in the Lower House to remove plunder from the list of heinous crimes punishable by death under the bill said, “I defer to the Lower House and I would like to express that we respect their independence.”
He also said regarding the issue, “Sila po ay independent body in the same way that the Executive department is a co-equal branch. So hayaan muna natin sila doon na tapusin ‘yung kanilang deliberation. We respect their independence and we will wait for the final decision of the Lower House, ‘yung kanilang final version,”
Included in the 21 major offenses to be punished with death through firing squad, hanging and lethal injection are kidnapping, serious illegal detention, rape, murder, plunder, treason, qualified piracy and dangerous drug offenses.
Government officials, including lawmakers would be exempted from capital punishment should the death penalty be revived if plunder is removed as one of the offenses covered by it.