DAVAO CITY, Philippines—It was expected.
This was how Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate described the ouster of Makabayan bloc members and other lawmakers from their key posts in the Lower House after they voted “no” to the death penalty bill.
“This is to be expected and we stand by our principled decision to vote no against the anti-poor death penalty bill,” Zarate told Davao Today on Thursday.
Zarate was removed from his chairmanship of the Committee on Natural Resources along with nine other committee chairmanship that were declared vacant during Congress’ last session this week.
Also removed were:
1. Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus – Poverty Alleviation
2. ACT-Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio – Public Information
3. Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas 6th District) – Civil Service and Professional Regulation
4. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman (AMIN Party List) – Muslim Affairs
5. BUHAY Partylist Rep. Mariano Michael Velarde (BUHAY Party List) – Overseas Workers Affairs
6. Dinagat Islands Lone District Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (Dinagat Islands Lone District) – People’s Participation
7. Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte (Quezon City 6th District) – Special Committee on Land Use
8. Sorsogon 1st District Rep. Evelina Escudero (Sorsogon 1st District) – Basic Education and Culture
9. DIWA Partylist Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (DIWA Party List) – Women and Gender Equality
10. Batanes Lone District Henedina Abad – Government Reorganization
The Davao-based lawmaker scored on the House leadership when it resorted to what he called as “arm-twisting and railroading” just to ensure the passage of the anti-poor death penalty bill.
“We in Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc will have to seriously assess the situation and discuss our next move,” Zarate said.
Critics hit stripping of posts
Meanwhile, environmental group on Thursday hit the leadership of the House of Representatives for removing Zarate and 10 other lawmakers.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment branded as a “shameful display of trapo bravado,” saying it “endangered the landmark progress of a much-needed new legislation on mining.”
“The corrupt, gangster-like brinkmanship of the House leadership imperils the much-needed priority legislation of progressive committee chairs, especially on mining,” Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said in a statement.
According to Dulce, Zarate has been instrumental for pushing pro-people mining bills in Congress.
The Davao-based lawmaker, who chaired the House Natural Resources committee, is pushing for the passage of House Bill 2715 or the People’s Mining Bill.
The bill is seen to reorient the mining industry towards a framework of needs-based utilization, environmental safety, and national industrialization.
“The leadership of Rep. Zarate gave strategic vision to the ground-breaking initiatives of Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez to crackdown on gravely irresponsible large-scale mining projects. The trapo politicking has cast a shadow of uncertainty over this strategic policy pathway,” Dulce said.
He said that the House leadership should “seriously reconsider their politicking.”
“Let us remind them that even President Rodrigo Duterte himself has pronounced a pursuit of national industrialization and has repeatedly declared his support for Sec. Lopez’s crackdown on mines. The House Committee chair reorganization should not be used as a sinister tool to sabotage the passage of a new, pro-people, and pro-environment mining law that the Filipino people have long clamoured for,” he said. (davaotoday.com)