Camarines Sur Representative and Deputy House Speaker Luis Raymond Villafuerte has called on congressmen who voted against the proposed Anti-Terrorism bill to resign from their leadership posts, saying they are not part of the majority.
The Anti-Terrorism Bill will allow detention of an individual suspected of being a terrorist for 14 to 24 days without a warrant.
Villafuerte said those who voted against the bill disqualify them from being part of the majority coalition.
“My personal opinion is that those who voted against the measure and are part of the majority leadership holding key positions and chairmanships should have the professional decency and ethical standard to resign from their leadership posts for voting against the majority position, especially it was certified as urgent by the President who leads the majority coalition,” Villafuerte said in a statement.
He said no member was asked or forced to vote yes for the measure.
Villafuerte was referring to at least 11 of his colleagues who withdrew their “yes” vote to the Anti-Terror bill.
These include Representatives Joey Salceda of Albay, Lorna Silverio of Bulacan, Noel Villanueva of Tarlac, Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list, and Emmanuel Billones of Capiz.
A number of representatives, on the other hand, corrected their “yes” vote to abstentions. These include:
Sol Aragones of Laguna, Manuel Zubiri of Bukidnon, Roman Romulo of Pasig, Helen Tan of Quezon, Cheryl Deloso-Montalla of Zambales, Irene Saulog of Kalinga, Marissa Andaya of Camarines Sur, Evelina Escudero of Sorsogon, and Rommel Angara of Aurora.
Ang Probinsyano party-list Representative Ronnie Ong also corrected his vote as “no”, while Negros Oriental Representative Arnie Teves said he was not able to vote.
Of the above-mentioned lawmakers, Salceda chairs the House ways and means panel, Romulo chairs the House committee on basic education and culture, while Montalla leads the House committee on revision of laws.
Aragones chairs the House tourism panel, while Zubiri is the vice chairman of the House appropriations panel.
Tan chairs the House committee on health, while Andaya is the vice chairman of the House committee on natural resources. Angara, for his part, is the vice chairman of the House committee on aquaculture and fisheries resources.
Escudero is the highest ranking among them all as she sits as deputy speaker.
“It was a conscience vote and choice for everyone. However, if it’s in your conscience to oppose the measure, you should also have the conscience to resign from your leadership position. You cannot be a member of the majority and oppose its position and stand,” he said.
Villafuerte also said House members who wanted to change their votes can no longer do so.
“Fellow congressmen who announced publicly that they changed their votes regarding the Anti- Terrorism bill has no bearing and they cannot just change their vote by announcing to the public,” he said.
“There are rules and procedures they have to follow to change their vote and in this case it has to be formally changed and registered in the plenary,” he also said.
Congress adjourned its first regular session on June 5. The second regular session will open on July 27.
The Anti-Terrorism bill, which also criminalizes the act inciting to terrorism through means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners, or other representations, is awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature to become a law./Stacy Ang