Senate to be abolished? Barbers jests: New building has 64 rooms

Senate to be abolished? Barbers jests: New building has 64 rooms

/ 04:30 PM February 07, 2024

PHOTO: Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers STORY: Senate to be abolished? Barbers jests: New building has 64 rooms

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (File photo from the Facebook page of the House of Representatives)

MANILA, Philippines — Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers joked on Wednesday that the House of Representatives, instead of the Senate, was in danger of abolition as the new Senate building allegedly features more than 60 rooms for lawmakers.

In a briefing, Barbers said that the new building in Taguig under construction would have 64 rooms for lawmakers — while there were only 24 lawmakers in the Senate.


“Actually, we were told in the new design of the Senate building I think they have 64 rooms for senators. That’s why I mentioned to DS [Deputy Speaker] Jayjay [Suarez] that it might be the House that will face abolition,” Barbers, speaking partly in Filipino, told reporters


“We would be abolished and not them apparently,” Suarez quipped.

Turning serious, Barbers reiterated that the House had never planned to abolish the Senate, noting that no political revisions had been pushed under the resolutions approved by the House in the 19th Congress.

“So I think again I’d like to emphasize that we really did not discuss anything about political revisions, and the speaker has made that very clear in all his pronouncements, in all his statements. That’s why those who doubt us should no longer have doubts in our proposal to amend the Constitution,” Barbers said.

Senators are wary that the people’s initiative (PI) to amend the 1987 Constitution was meant to abolish the Senate and turn Congress into a unicameral institution. Last January 23, all 24 senators signed a manifesto condemning the people’s initiative — which some lawmakers claimed the House leadership, including Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, was pushing.

Under the PI, the Senate and the House would vote jointly on the proposed amendments, which senators feared would lead to the Senate’s stand being overwhelmed by over 300 lawmakers.

But Romualdez and several ranking lawmakers denied the senators’ accusations. He maintained that he was not behind the people’s initiative and that the House was only after amending restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.


Some House leaders — like Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe — maintained that it is impossible to insert political amendments when Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 explicitly mentioned economic amendments.

RBH No. 6 is the resolution adopted by the House last March 2023 calling for economic-related amendments to the Constitution.

READ: Cha-cha focused on economic reforms, not term extension, says solon

Barbers speculated that the reason why PI proponents pushed for joint voting on the proposed amendments was because they were already tired of seeing Charter change or constitutional amendment proposals dying in the Senate.

“Perhaps that is the reason why the advocates of people’s initiative are pushing for [it]. Right? Because they probably have become exasperated with the delays because the House in the 18th Congress passed RBH No. 2. It was mentioned in RBH No. 2, let’s go for a con-ass [constitutional assembly],” he said.

Several House leaders believe that the tensions between the Senate and House over Charter change and constitutional amendments would simmer down as Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri vowed to start discussions on RBH No. 6.

However, it appears that discussions were sparked again after the House on Monday adopted a resolution defending Romualdez from the Senate’s alleged “intense assaults.”

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On Tuesday, Dalipe dared senators to come out in the open with their stand on constitutional amendments and leave it up to the people who among the senators would be reelected in 2025.

TAGS: charter change, House of Representatives, Robert Ace Barbers, Senate

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