MANILA -- House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday said he has no personal rift with Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III or with the Senate despite his earlier comments over the performance of the Upper Chamber in passing important legislative measures.
“Magkaibigan kami. Alam mo sa akin kasi, trabaho lang. Wala naman akong ano… sasabihin mo mayroon akong galit, wala. Ito, lahat ito trabaho lang,” Alvarez said.
Pimentel is the president of the administration party, Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP), while Alvarez is the secretary general.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Speaker appealed to the Senate, which he described as “mabagal na kapulungan” (slow Chamber), to work harder and pass important measures in the legislative agenda of the administration that the House of Representatives has already passed but and are still waiting for action by the senators.
Pimentel retorted by saying that the Senate is the “nag-aaral na kapulungan” (thinking chamber) in Congress, adding that quality is more important than quantity of bills passed.
Alvarez said that his comments were uttered out of frustration over the long hours spent by members of the House to hammer out and pass a bill, only to see it pending in the Senate.
“Naiinis lang ako dahil hirap na hirap kami dito sa House of Representatives, nag-o-overtime yung mga congressman para lang maipasa yung isang panukalang batas. Pagdating naman sa Senado sumasabit, nakabinbin doon,” he said.
The Speaker cited the death penalty bill as among the priority bills of President Rodrigo Duterte that is gathering dust in the Senate.
Restoration of capital punishment is one of President Duterte’s top campaign promises as part of his war against crime and illegal drugs.
It was passed by the House on third reading last March.
Alvarez likewise took a jab at Pimentel’s “nag-aaral na kapulungan” response, saying that scrutinizing a bill should not take a full term to resolve.
Members of the House are elected for a three-year term while senators have a six-year term.
‘Alam mo, yung sinasabing ganyan, depensa na lang iyan. Ang tagal-tagal naman ng pag-aaral na iyan, walang mangyayari sa atin kung mag-aaral tayo habang buhay, matatapos na lang yung termino natin nag-aaral pa rin tayo,” Alvarez said.
He said the Senate should not be pissed off with his critical comments, but rather should just face reality and admit its shortcomings.
“Harapin na lang natin yung katotohanan. Huwag na tayong mag… bawal ang pissed dito sa administrasyon na ito. Kung hindi kaya, aminin na natin na hindi kaya,” Alvarez said.
In the meantime, Alvarez said shifting to a federal form of government with a unicameral legislative system could address the slow passage of important legislation.
“Kapag ganyan, isulong na natin yung pag-revise ng ating Saligang Batas para mapabilis naman yung ating proseso dito sa ating bansa,” Alvarez said.
His position that federalism is needed to make lawmaking more effective was shared by several House leaders.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, who chairs the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, said he fully supports the stand of the Speaker.
“Yes, we have passed so many bills in the 17th Congress which is pending in Senate. It would be easier to pass bills if we have a unicameral legislative system,” he said.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, who chairs the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, said he supports federalism if it is the key to countryside development and the attainment of peace in Mindanao.
“Under Federalism, bills and other issues will also be acted 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.
Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo, who chairs the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, also pointed out that federalism 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.
Pimentel, Evardone, and Castelo are all members of the ruling administration party.
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, a member of Nacionalista Party allied with the administration, also said that federalism would help fast-track the lawmaking process.
“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,” the Deputy Speaker said. (PNA)