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No personal gains pushed in Bayanihan 2, solons insist

/ 06:16 PM August 24, 2020
The plenary hall of the House of Representatives

The plenary hall of the House of Representatives. (Photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Just before the House of Representatives ratified the proposed Bayanihan To Recover As One Act, several lawmakers hit the supposed insinuation of some senators that congressmen pushed for certain provisions of the measure for personal gain.

During the House’s session on Monday afternoon, several congressmen delivered their privilege speech—and faced interpellation—regarding the ongoing “word war” between the two chambers.

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This came after senators supposedly insinuated that their counterparts in the House were advancing personal gain in the bicameral panel meeting on the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

During the lower chamber’s session on Monday afternoon, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, who is one of the principal authors of the House’s version of Bayanihan 2 and the head of the lower chamber’s contingent in the bicameral conference committee, insisted that no personal interests were pushed in the passage of the measure.

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“I categorically state that all the salient features as provided in the House version which was approved by the bicameral conference committee are provisions that would really help our country recover. Wala pang personal interest dito as insinuated by our counterparts,” Villafuerte said.

“Ang katotohanan tayo ang may malinaw na adbokasiya. Huwag naman sanang mag-insinuate ang ating mga kasama dahil kasama naman sila sa bicam,” the lawmaker added.

(The truth is that we are the ones who have clear advocacies. I hope our colleague will not insinuate anything since they are also part of the bicam.)

Villafuerte said that if senators believe there are questionable provisions in the measure, they should have raised it beforehand so that a diplomatic debate could have taken place.

“Kung meron silang sa tingin na may maling probisyon na hindi sang-ayon sa kanilang pananaw, e sana sinabi nila at pinagdebatihan in a gentleman and a more diplomatic, statesman manner as against na pinagdebatihan na rin yan ng dalawa’t kalahating araw tapos mag-iinsinuate sa mga kasamahan natin dito sa Kongreso, binabanatan na ang institusyon na tayo raw ay may personal interest lang at sila ay may advocacy,” Villafuerte said.

(If they see any provision that is wrong and they disagree with it, they should have initiated debate in a gentleman and a more diplomatic, statesman manner, as against in their two-and-a-half day of debating with it and then insinuate something about their colleagues in Congress, our institution is being attacked saying that we have personal interest and they have the advocacy.)

The lawmaker said the minutes of the meeting should be released to debunk the supposed insinuations of senators while requesting their counterparts to move on and focus on measures that will help Filipinos.

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House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. backed Villafuerte, saying that “not a single member of this chamber had lobbied for parochial interest nor have they inserted any provision that will benefit their constituency over and above other Filipinos.”

“It is disheartening in this extraordinary time, while this august chamber painstakingly set aside party lines, parochial concern, and differences to hammer out House Bill 6953 with due regard only for the welfare of all Filipinos, we are now being accused of pushing provisions for personal gain,” Abante said.

“I take offense na ang dami nating parinig na parang yung sa kanila ay may personal gain,” he added. (…we are hearing a lot of insinuations like they have personal gain.)

Abante even went as far as saying that senators seem to need attention to insinuate that House members pushed for certain provisions for personal gain.

“To question the motive of the House bicam members is to question all of us who have set aside everything so that this bill will be passed,” Abante said.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, meanwhile, expressed beliefs that their counterparts in the Senate did not intend to “demean us,” but he defended the controversial inclusion of P10-billion funding for the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza).

“I feel that it is a big opportunity loss not to provide for infrastructure in the tourism sector at this time.. Global tourism is down and will remain that way while the virus is lurking around us and no vaccine or cure is in sight,” Barbers said.

Following the series of interpellations, the lower chamber ratified Bayanihan 2, which means that the measure now only needs the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte for it to become a law.

The Senate has already ratified the measure last week.

Villafuerte earlier said that Bayanihan 2 provides for a stimulus package worth P165 billion, higher than the funding initially proposed by both the Senate and House.

The P165 billion stimulus package consists of P140 billion in regular appropriation and P25 billion as standby funding.

JPV

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TAGS: Bayanihan 2, Bayanihan To Recover As One, House, Luis Raymund Villafuerte, word war
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