WHEN the call to vote on the revival of the death penalty law in Congress comes, I, too, expect our congressmen to obey the dictates of their consciences. Do they still have consciences? I would like to think so.

Time was when our ancestors were maka Diyos, maka tao and maka bayan. We were a proud race because we stood tall among the nations as a race whose word could be depended upon and whose integrity was above question.

Today, only the very senior citizens remember that glory which was ours.

Some of our senators, to mention a few, have spoken against the death penalty like Kiko Pangilinan and Bam Aquino. Our Cebuano Congressman Raul del Mar added his voice to theirs.

I still cannot forget a sad experience which met my eyes as our motorboat landed at Clarin, Bohol while escaping from the Japanese bombings during World War II. It was nearly dark but I saw a group of men hanging a man. To my young eyes, this was so horrible. What happened next was even more horrible. The family of the man rushed to his side bringing an ex-police chief who attested to his innocence of being a Japanese corroborator. By the time they cut the rope, the man had already died.

Today, as the question of having the death penalty become a law again, I ask especially Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Diaz Alvarez, are you human at all? Are numbers all that matter to you? Where did you lose your heart?

To those congressmen and senators who are still oscillating between right and wrong, perhaps it would be good to remember the cancer scare in the old days. As long as this terminal disease did not touch us, we felt safe. We are now all vulnerable to terminal diseases and to unjust killings.

It is when stray bullets hit one of our kins or when a case of mistaken identity falls in the middle of our own family that we feel the pain which others have felt.

For us who are on the sidelines, we can only pray when our leaders say, “let us hope for a conscience vote.”

We are placing a lot of trust, a lot of hope and a lot of divine intervention for the inate Filipino’s sense of decency to come to the fore.

We, as a race, used to be looked up to, as conscientious workers, as dedicated employees and as men who allow their consciences to follow their actions. A conscience vote is needed if we want to retain our humanity.