Alvarez steps up criticisms vs Senate

January 05, 2018

SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday denied that he has a rift with Senate President Koko Pimentel but continued to criticize his leadership for being too slow in acting on pending legislative measures.

Alvarez laughed off Pimentel’s claim that the Senate takes longer to approve measures passed by the House because it thoroughly studies bills before passing it.

“It’s just his defense,” he told dzMM. “Nothing good will happen to us if we’ll study everything for the rest of our lives. Our terms will end and we’re still not yet done studying.”

He said the Senate should face reality and admit its shortcomings, citing the bill restoring the death penalty on drug-related heinous crimes that the House has passed in March last year but remains pending in the Senate.

“We’re toiling in the House of Representatives, congressmen are working overtime to approve bills but it hits a road block when it reaches the Senate. It’s all pending there. Just look at the death penalty, until now it’s there. Molds are already growing on it,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said the slow passage of important pieces of legislation can be addressed through a shift to a federal form of government.

“If it’s like this, let’s just push for the revision of the Constitution to expedite the legislative process in our country,” he said.

Alvarez earlier said he would talk to Pimentel as soon as Congress resumes session on January 15 to initiate the process of convening the Senate and the House into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) and prepare a new constitution that would install a federal form of government.

Rep. Alfredo Benitez (PDP-Laban, Negros Occidental), one of the authors of the bills seeking to convene Congress into a Con-Ass, said the Senate “is a duplication of the legislative work of the House, causing delay and wasting resources.”

Rep. Johnny Pimentel (PDP-Laban, Surigao del Sur) defended the Speaker, saying “it would be easier to pass bills if we have a unicameral legislative system.”

Rep. Winston Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City) said having a unicameral system “will expedite the legislative agenda of the President.”

“It will fulfill further the campaign promises of the administration. This will be the culmination of the message of the President which is change to key to keep the country moving,” he said.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu (NP, Batangas) said: “We support federalism to fast-track the process of lawmaking and expedite the implementation of government programs and projects for the benefit of Filipino people.”

Rep. Ben Evardone (PDP-Laban, Eastern Samar) said under a federal form of government, bills and other issues will also be acted upon immediately because of the regional assembly.

“The national legislative assembly will just focus on national concerns like foreign relations, national security, among others,” he said.