Senate of the Philippines

Senators suggest dialogue to settle spat with House lawmakers

Bonz Magsambol

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Senators suggest dialogue to settle spat with House lawmakers

CHA-CHA HEARING. The Senate on Monday, February 5, starts its hearing on the propose amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Will the House of Representatives accept the Senate's invitation for a dialogue?

MANILA, Philippines – Senators were disturbed that a House of Representatives resolution expressing “unwavering solidarity and support” for Speaker Martin Romualdez labelled as an “intense assault” the Senate’s opposition to charter change through people’s initiative.

Among those who showed his disdain was Senator Jinggoy Estrada. In his manifestation at the Senate regular session on Monday, February 5, Estrada said: “What I cannot understand is the phrase ‘intense assault’ coming from the Senate. I’ve been a defender of this institution, for more than a decade and I love this institution. But what I cannot accept is that the title of the resolution is ‘intense assault….’ as far as I know, as far as I can remember, if my memory serves me right, there was no direct assault coming from the Senate towards any member of the House of Representatives.”

Estrada was referring to House Resolution 1562, which said in its long-winded title that it not only supported the Speaker, but was also “upholding the integrity and honor of the House of Representatives in the face of the intense assault of the Senate.” The resolution collected 286 signatories as of writing. Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc abstained from voting, pointing out that the country has more pressing matters to deal with than charter change.

Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel was also annoyed by the House resolution. “Nakakalungkot that the House, our co-equal body here (It’s sad that the House, our co-equal body here), accused us of practices which they are doing in the very same accusatory document. Ano ba talaga ang gusto nila? (What do they really want?)” he rhetorically asked.

“The two houses must have dialogue,” Pimentel said. “Ano ba talaga ang gusto nila? Kasi document kapag binasa mo it betrays something eh (What do they want? When you read their document, it betrays something). They want something but they were not able to state it properly or directly.”

Estrada also floated the same suggestion. “Unsolicited advice, para hindi na lumaki ang away ng Senado at Congress… If I may suggest, ‘yung leadership ng Senate at House ay mag usap-usap na. Ano ba talaga gusto ‘nyo mangyare para matapos na ang lahat?

After ‘intense assault’ from Senate, House stands up for Romualdez 

After ‘intense assault’ from Senate, House stands up for Romualdez 

(Unsolicited advice, so that the rift between the Senate and the Congress will not escalate, if I may suggest, the leadership of both the Senate and House should talk. What do you really want for this to end?)

He also said that the ongoing word war between the two chambers might affect the Philippine economy. “Kasi kapag tumagal ang away ng House of Representatives at Senado ay baka bumagsak ekonomiya natin matakot na ang investors natin.”

(Because if this word war between the House of Representatives and the Senate persists, it might affect our economy. Investors will shy away from us.)

Senators suggest dialogue to settle spat with House lawmakers

Senate President Migz Zubiri said that he was amenable to a dialogue to end the bickering between the two chambers.

“Bukas naman ang tanggapan namin para makipagusap kay Speaker (Our office is open to talk with the Speaker). For the good of the country, we will do that,” Zubiri said.

The House resolution also took note of last week’s Senate probe into the people’s initiative, seeing it as a move “specifically directed at discrediting” both their institution and its leadership. Romualdez and his cousin Senator Imee Marcos got into a verbal spat last week, following the Senate where Marcos appeared to respond to Romualdez’s calling out senators’ criticisms of the people’s initiative.

During the Senate investigation, the chief of the People’s Initiative for Reform Modernization and Action (PIRMA) named Romualdez as the person who “helped” the Ramos-era charter change group in the signature drive. PIRMA told senators that they were able to get the required 3% in congressional districts with the help of congressmen.

The Senate called for an inquiry into people’s initiative to amend the charter amid allegations of bribery. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.