Barrita: Rank and privileges | SunStar

Barrita: Rank and privileges

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Barrita: Rank and privileges

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

HOUSE Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas has drawn flak from netizens for seeking special treatment from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for lawmakers who commit traffic violations.

One netizen wondered aloud if lawmakers are above the law. Of course not, but they are special, a cut above the rest. And rank has its privileges.

We can only wish people of rank and privilege would be our role models.

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Farinas was only concerned his colleagues on their way to a session in Congress gets hauled off to a police station for a traffic offense.

He said this could prevent a quorum in Congress which has long been plagued with the lack of enthusiastic attendees.

But have you ever heard of a congressman who was nabbed for violating trafic laws?

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“For example, he ran over and injured someone. If he introduces himself as a congressman, he shouldn’t be arrested immediately. Our rules state that as soon as the session ends, the Speaker will surrender him to you,” Fariñas said.

If you have not ever heard of a congressman being arrested for any traffic-related offense, it’s because they did not introduce themselves.

A special plate already announces who is on board. And most likely, it’s the driver who goes to jail.

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Fariñas said lawmakers, unlike the president, do not enjoy immunity from suit, only parliamentary immunity and privilege from arrest.

He cited Section 11, Article VI of the Constitution which states, “A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. No Member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof.”

There’s even no need to ask for a special treatment for lawmakers.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 20, 2017.

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