IFUGAO Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. appealed to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez III not to evict the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. (CSFI) from the Batasan Complex, and is calling on his colleagues to also buck the move.
“The work of the CSFI complements all legislators and helps out all districts. These partners in life are also legitimate partners in extending the goodwill and service of District representatives to their constituents. Taking them away from the Batasan Complex will only burden their work for the people,” Baguilat explained.
Around Valentine’s Day, Alvarez announced he wanted the CSFI out of the Batasan Complex to make room for offices of deputy speakers and party list congressmen.
“We cannot have it here and support it because I will be dispensing public money for a private purpose,” Alvarez reportedly said.
Several personnel at Congress, on the other hand, spoke highly of the CSFI and its good deeds. “The foundation has hosted job fairs, handed out scholarships, promoted local products through trade fairs, donated relief goods and interacted with the Congressmen’s constituents to maintain good relations,” a House staffer remarked.
Traditionally headed by the spouse of the Speaker, the CSFI is currently chaired by Alvarez’s wife, Emelita, who has also received kind words from Congressional workers. “She’s kind, good-natured and committed to the work of the CSFI,” one chief of staff commented.
“It’s part of Philippine culture for spouses to support each other’s work, so I can’t imagine why the Speaker wants to make coordination between the CSFI and the Congressmen difficult. It’s unfortunate that the Speaker thinks that the CSFI is a liability to Congress, when it is in fact doing part of its work," Baguilat said.
“I’m sure kicking out the CSFI will infuriate its members who are faithful to and supportive of their legislator-spouses. While the Speaker has administrative control over the facilities of Congress, I hope he will consult all relevant stakeholders, namely the spouses, and not impose changes like a dictator-husband,” Baguilat remarked.
“I believe it's better to have the real spouses of the legislators here in Congress. I hope my colleagues will not agree to further distance them from the supportive work of their spouses,” Baguilat said. (Melody Balanza)