Batocabe led meetings of the party-list coalition on the matter, but he told Rappler in early December that they have failed to come up with a unified stand. While most lawmakers are allied with the majority bloc, some are also part of the opposition groups in the House.
Still, Batocabe echoed De Vera’s contention on the latter’s removal as lawmaker – that only the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, not the plenary, has jurisdiction to remove a sitting member of the chamber.
“Such jurisdiction is exclusive and includes the determination of the qualifications of the nominee to seat in Congress. Thus, it is my position that a party-list nominee who took his oath and assumed office in the HOR is protected by the Constitution and by the institution itself. As such, he cannot just be summarily removed by a mere letter claiming that he is no longer a member of his party-list,” said the late congressman.
Batocabe had been in the headlines in his last months in the House, mostly for his stance on transportation issues.
He wanted the government to incentivize local manufacturers to build new jeepneys under the public utility vehicle modernization program.
In July 2017, Batocabe had also demanded accountability from transport network companies and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in cases of accidents on the road. At the time, Batocabe was grieving the death of his nephew, who died after the latter’s Uber vehicle crashed in Singapore.
Batocabe had his share of controversies, too.
The late congressman drew flak last year for filing bill that would impose a 30% tax on cosmetic products. But he said he will stop pushing for the passage of the measure so he won’t get in the way of Filipinos’ “happiness.”
Batocabe, however, took pride in being an advocate for education, especially in his home region, Bicol.
“The easiest, cheapest and honorable way to fight poverty and move up the socio-economic ladder is through education. Hence, making quality education accessible to all, especially the masses, should not only be an advocacy of AKO BICOL but must be its continuous and firm commitment so long as there are still people hoping and dreaming to escape from the clutches of poverty,” said Batocabe. – with reports from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com