House denounces ‘confrontational stance’ staged by Senate

House of Representatives
House of RepresentativesFile photo

THE House of Representatives has adopted a resolution denouncing the “confrontational stance” being staged by the Senate against them amid its ongoing investigation on the People’s Initiative for Charter change (cha-cha).

On Monday, February 5, 2024, at least 286 lawmakers from the House voted in favor of adopting House Resolution 1562, to show “unwavering solidarity” to the leadership of House Speaker Martin Romualdez “in the face of intense assault from the Senate in violation of the principle of inter-parliamentary courtesy and undue interference in the performance of its legislative and constituent functions.”

"Resolved, furthermore, that this resolution be a formal denunciation of the confrontational tactics used by the Senate, which are detrimental to the spirit of cooperative governance and the public's confidence in parliamentary processes," stated the House Resolution 1562.

“While taking criticisms is part and parcel of a healthy and working democracy, the House takes exception to the recent statements and allegations made by the Senate that undermine the independence, reputation and integrity of the House of Representatives and the leadership of the Speaker,” it added.

In a plenary session, several political party leaders in the chamber, including Lakas-CMD’s North Cotabato Representative Ma. Alana Samantha Santos, Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers of the Nacionalista Party (NP), Camarines Sur Representative LRay Villafuerte of the National Unity Party (NUP), San Jose del Monte City Representative Rida Robes of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), Palawan Representative Jose "Pepito" Alvarez of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Camarines Sur Representative Gabriel Bordado Jr. of the Liberal Party (LP), TGP Partylist Representative Jose "Bong" Teves Jr. of the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI), Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojuangco, and Rizal Representative Jack Duavit of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) delivered their respective speeches to support the resolution and to defend the honor of the institution.

Santos said that while taking criticism and engaging in constructive debate are part of democracy, the allegations leveled by the Senate not only challenge the integrity of the institution but also erode public confidence in our parliamentary processes.

“Such confrontational tactics are counterproductive to the spirit of cooperative governance,” she said.

"Speaker Romualdez has exemplified leadership by guiding us in upholding the dignity and honor of our House…It is our duty as representatives of the people to stand united in rejecting these unfounded accusations and to commit ourselves to defend the dignity and integrity of our institution," she added.

Villafuerte said the actions of the upper chamber of Congress not only compromise the decorum expected between co-equal branches of government but also impinge upon the honor and autonomy of the House.

"We vehemently object to the Senate's contentious methods, which undermine not only the cooperative ethos essential for effective governance but also erode the trust of our citizenry in the democratic process. We advocate for a restoration of dignified discourse and a recommitment to the principles of inter legislative respect, ensuring collaborative and harmonious functioning of both legislative bodies for the greater good of our nation," he said.

In response, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri denied staging an “intense assault” against anyone.

“It is unfortunate that it had to come down to this... I have not said derogatory things about any member of the House of Representatives. All my privilege speeches and statements…have been about the institution, about the bicameral nature of Congress, about checks and balances. I am not targeting any personality,” he said.

“They felt assaulted, how? If the [Senate] Committee on Electoral Reforms is just performing its duties, they’re dealing with facts. The facts have been coming out, whether it is for or against the topic at hand. As far as we are concerned, we're back to work,” Zubiri said.

He said his office is always open to talk to the House of Representatives.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada expressed belief that the House resolution is an “affront” to the Senate, maintaining that they did not violate inter parliamentary courtesy.

He also offered himself to make representations with the House of Representatives in order to settle the differences between the two chambers of Congress.

Other senators also took exception of the actions of the House of Representatives

Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms chaired by Senator Imee Marcos launched last week its inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the People’s Initiative (PI), which seeks to amend the 1987 Constitution such as the gathering of signatures for PI; transparency, integrity, and accountability in constitutional initiatives; and the need to assess the effectiveness in empowering citizens to propose constitutional changes under Republic Act 6735, or the Act Providing for a System of Initiative and Referendum and Appropriating Funds.

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Marcos earlier said that she is certain that Romualdez, her cousin, is behind the push for PI for Cha-cha and that he even granted P20 million reward per legislative district in exchange of signatures.

Romualdez vehemently denied the accusations linking him to PI but People’s Initiative for Modernization and Reform Action (Pirma) lead convenor Noel Oñate admitted during a hearing that Romualdez supported to boost the signature drive.

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On January 23, the Senate unanimously signed a manifesto rejecting the PI for Cha-cha, which the chamber tagged as a “brazen attempt to violate the Constitution, the country and our people.”

It noted that the Senate, which has 24 members, will be outnumbered and cannot cast any meaningful vote against the House of Representatives, which has 316 members. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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