Leaders of the House of Representatives belonging to the majority who somersaulted on their Yes votes on the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020, should resign their committees, said Camarines Sur Representative and Deputy House Speaker Luis Raymond Villafuerte.
Certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, the bill that would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2007, was approved by the House on June 3, with 173 congressmen voting Yes with only 31 voting No and 29 others abstaining.
The bill, also approved by the Senate, has been endorsed to the Palace for action by Duterte, who has to approve or veto the bill or let it lapse into law. within 30 days after it was transmitted to the Palace.
Several majority House leaders who voted Yes, notably Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, have turned around declaring they would change their votes as the bill sparked wide public discussion and threats by militant groups and government critics of massive protest actions.
In urging them to resign from their leadership, Villafuerte said they are now disqualified from being part of the majority coalition for opposing a measure backed by the majority.
“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.
“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,” the Camarines Sur congressman said.
Aside from Salceda of Albay, the other House leaders who somersaulted were Lorna Silverio of Bulacan, Noel Villanueva of Tarlac, Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list, and Emmanuel Billones of Capiz.
Villafuerte also said House members who wanted to change their votes can no longer do so because they announced their turn-around only in public statements carried by media.
“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, adding that “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,” Villafuerte added.