Vice President Leni Robredo was asked to stop attending Cabinet meetings allegedly due to “irreconcilable differences” with the administration. President Duterte’s most vocal critic LP Senator Leila De Lima was charged, arrested, and detained for a non-bailable offense on weak evidence. Four Liberal Party senators and one ally were removed from the chairmanship of their committees purportedly for “hampering” the administration’s legislative agenda. And now this: the ouster of members of Congress for voting “No” to the Death Penalty Bill after the measure’s approval on third and final reading last Tuesday, March 7.
The Liberal Party is not surprised.
Foremost, it is deeply saddened by the outcome of the vote because the party believes that the restoration of the death penalty has regressive and irrevocable effects to society and our economy.
The party is disappointed by the suppression of arguments that characterized what should have been a democratic process. Of the 25 congressmen who lined up to interpellate the death penalty bill, only seven were allowed to debate with the proponents.
The Liberal Party is concerned; kicking out the “No” voters from House leadership positions betrays the administration’s intolerance to dissent, a disturbing indicator of a dangerous slide toward authoritarianism. The Speaker’s action is divisive and detrimental to the character of Congress as an independent and deliberative institution. In a democracy, dissent must be met with thoughtful reasoning, not political retribution.
As with the media that normally gives a new President a honeymoon period, the Liberal Party tried to give this administration multi-partisan support. But uniting behind it appears to have become more and more untenable because we are unable to support and defend a number of its policies, including its failure to address the thousands of extra-judicial killings among others.
Nasa demokrasya tayo at hindi diktadura. Hindi dahil tumututol sa ilang mga isyu na tinutulak ng administrasyon ay ibig sabihin ay kaaway na o dapat nang pinaparusahan o tinatanggalan ng komite ang mga halal na opisyal. Sa halip na pinagkakaisa ang bansa, lalo lang nagkakawatak-watak dahil pwersahan ang kilos. Pinahihina nito at hindi pinapalakas ang ating demokrasya.
Nevertheless, with or without committee chairmanships, we, Liberal Party members, vow to continue to work on important pieces of legislation, engage in debates, vote according to our values and principles, and endeavor a society free of fear and poverty and where all are able to make their dreams come true.