MANILA – Congressional leaders must sit down and privately settle their feud over the House of Representatives' push for constitutional amendments, instead of quarreling in public.
Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., in a radio interview Friday, appealed to the House of Representatives and Senate leaders to observe parliamentary courtesy, noting that the differences in their opinions on the charter change initiative could have been avoided had the Senate first voted on the measure before announcing that it does not have the numbers to push it.
"Nagkakaroon tuloy ng (Due to this, there is now a) word war between the Senate President and the Speaker (Martin Romualdez) and (House Committee on Constitutional Amendments) chairman Rufus (Rodriguez). Minsan nakakahiya (It is embarrassing)," Barzaga told Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on his radio program "Kape Kape Muna" aired over DWRB.
"Dapat veteran legislators kami. Kung ano man ang pinagkaka-iba ng opinion (We should act as veteran legislators. Whatever differences we have in opinion), settle privately," he said.
Barzaga said the word war started when Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri insinuated that the delay in the enforcement of the implementing guidelines of the three laws (Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and Foreign Investment Act) appeared to be caused by the House's push for rewriting the Constitution’s economic provisions.
Rodriguez countered that Zubiri’s allegation was "unfair" to House members, especially the Speaker, who has taken exception to the allegations that the House railroaded the passage of the measures calling for a Constitutional Convention (ConCon).
Barzaga pointed out that the delay in the enforcement of the implementing guidelines of the three laws was not the House’s fault.
He said it was unfortunate that Zubiri made the insinuations in public, triggering Romualdez and Rodriguez to respond.
“Kaya sinasabi namin kung minsan nakakahiya rin sa publiko (That’s why we sometimes say that it is embarrassing to the public). The heads of the chambers of the lawmaking body are quarreling before the public. The issuance of the implementing guidelines of the aforementioned three laws is the act of the executive, independent of the action of the House and also of the Senate,” he said.
If the Senate does not have the numbers, Barzaga said, Zubiri could have just ordered Senator Robinhood Padilla not to proceed with the public hearings anymore because it would only be a waste of time; or just wait for the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments to vote on the Cha-cha measure in the committee level and if approved, debate the issues in the plenary.
"Sa tingin ko naman, lulusot sa committee level 'yung proposal, eh 'di napag-usapan na lang sa (I think the proposal will pass at the committee level, then it should have been discussed at the) plenary. Mangampanya sila secretly saka bumoto at kung sakaling wala 'yung two-thirds vote, saka sabihin sa publiko (They could just campaign secretly then vote, and if the two-thirds vote needed is not attained, then that’s the time they air it in public). But not at this time, that will be premature," he said.
Barbers, who has long been a Cha-cha supporter, agreed, saying that the House and the Senate should appoint representatives to settle the row.
"I absolutely agree. Dapat mag set up ng team ng (A team should be set-up by the) Upper and Lower House… para mailatag talaga ang (to thoroughly discuss the) position of both Houses," he said. (PNA)