Senate minority to remain ‘strong’ in 18th Congress — Trillanes, Escudero
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate minority bloc in the 18th Congress will remain a “strong” opposition despite their diminished number, two outgoing senators said Thursday.
Outgoing opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, said the minority bloc is still in “good hands.”
“I believe the minority will be in good hands still. Nandyan pa rin sila Senator Frank (Drilon), si Senator Kiko (Pangilinan) and Senator Risa,” Trillanes said in a Kapihan at the Senate forum.
“They are very good legislators and at the same time, very active advocates and fiscalizers, so hindi mapipilayan ang minority in any way (so the minority bloc will not be weakened in any way),” he added.
Only Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, and Risa Hontiveros will remain as opposition senators in the new Congress.
Another opposition senator whose term will end on June 30 is Senator Bam Aquino, who will leave the Senate after failing to secure re-election in the 2019 polls.
Meanwhile, opposition Senator Leila de Lima is currently detained at Camp Crame over alleged illegal drug charges.
Outgoing Senator Francis Escudero, meanwhile, said that despite the looming Senate supermajority in the 18th Congress, there is no assurance that the bills being pushed by the Duterte administration will be passed swiftly and smoothly.
“Hindi pa rin naman dahil ang mga naiwang miyembro ng Senado na nasa opposition ay mga batikang senador kabilang na si Senator Drilon, si Senator Pangilinan na makailang ulit nang nanilbihan bilang miyembro ng Senado. Syempre nandyan din si Senator Risa at kung makalaya si Senator Leila,” Escudero said in a separate Kapihan at the Senate forum.
(The opposition senators in the minority bloc are veteran lawmakers, including Senators Drilon and Pangilinan. There’s also Senator Risa (Hontiveros) and Senator Leila (De Lima) if she can secure freedom.)
“Matibay na line up ‘yun ng opposition para matiyak na may check and balance sa pagpasa ng anumang mga batas ng Senado (The opposition lineup is strong, so there would still be check and balance at the Senate),” he added.
Escudero said that the minority bloc was also able to do their mandates properly in the past, even if it is only composed of one senator.
“Sa mga nakaraang Senado nga, minsan ang opposition isa o dalawa lang pero nagampanan pa rin naman nila ang kanilang mga tungkulin. Lalo na siguro kung apat sila (In the past, the opposition only have one or two senators, but they were still able to do their jobs. More so if there are four of them),” he said.
There is no assurance that the controversial bills pushed by the administration, such as the death penalty, federalism, and the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. (ROTC) will be passed in the 18th Congress, Escudero said.
He explained that senators usually disregard party lines and vote based on their principles if the bill is controversial.
“Ang boto, ang paniniwala, paninindigan ng mga miyembro ng Senado ay hindi naman sinusundan yung party lines sa mga isyung yan na malapit sa puso ng bawat isa, pabor man o kontra (The members’ beliefs and stand on those issues matter more than the party stand),” Escudero added. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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