MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III hit back at House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez after the latter criticized the Senate for being slow in passing bills.
Pimentel, in response, said the Senate is the "thinking chamber" in Congress.
"I have responded to that already before by saying that the Senate is the nag-aaral na kapulungan (the critical chamber)," he told reporters on Wednesday, January 3.
Pimentel also said quality is more important than the quantity of bills passed.
He pointed out that the House passes more measures because local bills, such as those seeking to rename schools and highways and to increase hospital beds, are required to originate from the body.
"Let us not judge law-making in terms of number of laws passed but in terms of how the laws we pass improve the quality of life on Earth in general and the quality of life of Filipinos in particular. Again I say, change mindset: quality not quantity," Pimentel said.
"Of course there are many more bills emanating from the House because local bills originate from the House. All bills renaming and or merging schools, increasing hospital beds, etc, must and do come from the House," he added.
In an interview on ANC on Wednesday, Alvarez said there are few bills being signed into law because they are stuck in the Senate. He also said the leadership of the Senate has to be more "active" to pass more legislation.
"Masaya na ako doon kasi 'yung naipasa naming bills. Karamihan doon, nakabinbin sa Senado. Well, nasa leadership 'yun ng Senado. Kaya kailangan maging active lang 'yung leadership ng Senate para mas marami silang maipasang panukalang batas... Oo, kaya nga ano, mabagal na kapulungan," Alvarez said.
(I'm happy with the bills we passed. Most of them are pending in the Senate. It's now up to the leadership of the Senate. They need to be more active so they can pass more bills. Yes, that's why we call them the slow chamber.)
The House under the 17th Congress hurriedly passed the measure seeking to reimpose the death penalty, which the Senate has so far shelved.
The minority bloc in the House also hit the majority for supposedly railroading the passage of the tax reform bill and the proposed 2018 budget. The two measures underwent months of scrutiny in the Senate. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com