Senators: No need for bicam on Road Board abolition
MANILA, Philippines — Senators believe that there is no longer a need to recall the bill abolishing the Road Board and discuss it in the bicameral conference committee.
This sentiment was aired when they met in an all-senators caucus on Monday.
“Generally, the sentiment was that there’s no need for a bicam because we have adopted the House version,” Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III told reporters.
The Senate leadership, nevertheless, directed Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri to meet with his counterpart, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, to find out why they have to convene the bicam and discuss the bill.
“Talks lang yun (It’s just talks). At the moment, we still stand on the issue na it has been adopted,” Sotto said.
The House had approved the bill which the Senate later adopted, but the lower chamber later decided to recall the measure.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who was interviewed first by the media, claimed that they agreed during the caucus that there is no need to convene the bicam to discuss the Road Board abolition.
“The senators maintained our position that we should not convene the bicam because insofar as the Senate is concerned, we have adopted the House version; and therefore, there are no disagreeing provisions,” Drilon said.
“So we will stand firm on our position that we have finished the process and now, we will submit the printed copy, or what we call the enrolled copy, to the President for his consideration,” he added.
Drilon said they asked Zubiri to meet with Andaya but only to relay and explain the position of the Senate.
The Minority Leader expressed fear that the bill might not be passed if the Senate agrees to recall its approval of the bill.
“For us to say now we go to bicam, we have to rescind this position of the Senate, we have to reconsider the position of the Senate and say, yes we have disagreeing provisions in the two versions and therefore we go to bicam,” Drilon said.
“If we cannot come to an agreement after we’ve reconsidered our position, and no agreement was reached when Congress adjourns, then the law stands. The Road Board continues to exist. For that reason, we said the position that we’ve taken is that there is no need for a bicam.”
As far as he is concerned, Drilon said the Senate could now send the printed copy of the bill to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.
“Let them question it before the Court if they believe that the Road Board has not been abolished with this process that we will follow,” he pointed out.
Zubiri, meanwhile, raised the possibility of having a “paper bicam,” depending on the parameters of amendments that the House would like to introduce.
If the amendments would just delay the approval of the bill, then he said the Senate might just stick to its position that it has already adopted the House’ version of the measure. /ee
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