The House of Representatives passed the third reading of death penalty bill last March 7. There were some names we didn’t expect to see on the “no” list. There were other congressmen we were disappointed to find out had voted yes: Geraldine Roman and Toff de Venecia, both known for their staunch LGBT advocacy. (De Venecia is a columnist and contributing editor for Young Star. –Ed.)
Rumors have been going around that Roman and de Venecia voted no to lobby support for the Anti-Discrimination Bill. As of writing this, no official confirming statements have been made regarding the rationale behind their votes.
Perhaps the question we have to ask is, what now? Now that the House of Representatives has voted in favor of death, what is important now is understanding what’s at stake. The approval of the death penalty bill institutionalizes the drug war and fortifies the current modus operandi of extrajudicially killing suspected drug users — those the government can’t kill outside the courtroom, they’ll kill inside of it. Also note that the death penalty bill is pointedly anti-poor. These are the people so marginalized they’re unlikely to get the fair trial; something our flawed justice system should rightfully give them. On top of that, this version of the death penalty bill excludes crimes such as rape, plunder, and treason (Yet it has conveniently kept drug-related crimes — and bizarrely enough, carnapping — as acts punishable by death.) What does it say about the interests of those in power?
Let us acknowledge this, then, about our representatives: in the world of politics, the act of strategizing how to fight for what you think isn’t just a logistical concern. It is a moral issue as well. To stand up for LGBT rights and protect the poor are not mutually exclusive things — we have to be well-rounded and morally consistent in fighting for the marginalized. What good is it, to fight for one disenfranchised group while endangering another? Perhaps in pursuing the good we won’t always get what we want. But maybe, in times like these, there is a greater responsibility to be uncompromising.
On our part, we have to remember that we still have the power to dissent. We have the responsibility to let our representatives know what we want, and demand it, because after all, they represent our interests. Our politicians can make concessions, but we don’t have to bend over.