April 23, 2018, 12:39 am
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Speaker urges Senate to act on measures, dubs it ‘slowpoke’

SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday urged senators to swiftly act on pending measures that the House has already passed, calling the Senate the “slow chamber.”

“It’s up to the Senate leadership, that’s why they need to be active to be able to pass more pending measures,” he told ANC, noting that many of the bills approved by the House remains pending in the Senate, including the bill restoring death penalty on drug-related heinous crimes that was approved in March last year.

When asked if he believes that the issue reflects on the leadership of Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Alvarez played coy, saying he was referring to the whole “institution” and not just the Senate President.

“I don’t want to comment on that but perhaps they need to expedite work on these pending measures to allow our President to really implement his plans,” he said.

Pimentel, in response, urged Alvarez to change his mindset that more is better, adding that “quality over quantity” has always been the mindset of the Senate when it comes to deliberation and passing of proposed legislative measures.

“The Senate is the ‘nag-aaral na kapulungan.’ Let us not judge lawmaking in terms of number of laws passed but in terms of how the laws we pass improve the quality of life on earth in general and the quality of life of Filipinos in particular. Again, I say change the mindset, quality not quantity,” Pimentel said.

“All bills renaming and or merging schools, increasing hospital beds etc. must and do come from the House,” Pimentel said as he reiterated his point that the question should not be on the number of bills passed but on its quality and impact on the Filipinos.

Alvarez said he was happy with the performance of the House, giving it an “objective” rating of eight out of 10.

An official report of the measures passed by the House of Representatives since it opened its session on June 25, 2016 up to December 13, 2017 showed that some 6,911 bills and 1,517 resolutions were filed in the chamber.

Of this number, the House processed a total of 2100 measure, 518 of which were approved, or an average of 14 measures processed per session day.

Thirty-nine were enacted into law, including the P3.767 trillion 2018 budget and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) that President Duterte signed last month. For the same period, the House has approved 354 bills on third and final reading.

Alvarez said the free college education and expanded access to health care laws are the most significant measures the House has passed.

“I’m happy that we have approved many bills, most of which remains pending in the Senate and that’s why only a few become laws,” he said.

Alvarez also defended the House investigations on alleged anomalies, including the alleged disadvantageous land deal that the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) entered into with the Tagum Agricultural Development, Co. Inc. (TADECO), and the alleged illegal use of P66.5 million in tobacco excise fund share of the Ilocos Norte Government.

He said these investigations were warranted because there were sufficient grounds to indicate irregularities and violations of the law.

He dismissed the allegations of political motivation, saying these are mere diversionary tactics and do not address the real issues surrounding the alleged anomalous acts.

Alvarez said that he has already filed graft charges against Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo (PDP-Laban, Davao del Norte), his former bosom buddy, for violation of the law prohibiting incumbent lawmakers from having interests in contracts with the government over the TADECO issue.

In the case of the Ilocos Norte tobacco excise tax use, Alvarez said there is ground to file plunder charges against Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and other respondents. – Ashzel Hachero
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