House member to Sen. Villanueva: Stick to issues, drop arrogance
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva has been urged to stick to the topic when discussing issues between the House of Representatives and the Senate and refrain from being arrogant — after he allegedly belittled district and party-list lawmakers for getting fewer votes than senators.
In his privilege speech during Monday’s session, Lanao del Sur 1st District Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong reiterated that members of the 19th Congress are equal — as the 1987 Constitution does not distinguish between members of the Senate or the House.
“I wish to address the careless comments of Senator Villanueva, maligning our party-list representatives, and by extension, the House of Representatives […] With all due respect to Senator Villanueva, he gravely misrepresented the nature of the two houses which comprise Congress,” Adiong said.
“The 1987 Constitution vests legislative power in one Congress, Iisang Kongreso, shared between the House of Representatives and the Senate,” he added.
Instead of making statements that go against inter-parliamentary courtesy, Adiong said that Villanueva should focus on the issue at hand — proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions — and refrain from issuing insults.
“Our disagreements should be channeled constructively, fostering an environment where the best ideas rise to the top. A divided house weakens our ability to respond effectively to the challenges facing our country, hindering progress and hindering the realization of our shared vision for a better Philippines,” Adiong said.
“Tayong lahat na miyembro ng Kongreso ay nasa serbisyo publiko. Kung mayroon tayong hindi pagkakaintindihan ifocus po natin sa isyu, wag nating daanin sa aroganteng pananalita,” he added.
(We are all members of Congress who are in public service. If we have differences, let us focus on the issue, we should not resort to arrogant statements.)
Adiong was referring to Villanueva’s speech at the Senate plenary, where he said that people “cannot say na equal ang isang party-list representative sa isang senador (we cannot say that a party-list is equal to a senator)”.
“We cannot say na equal ang isang party-list representative sa isang senator, never. Ilan bang boto’ng nakukuha ng pinaka-mababang senador ngayon Mr. President, 15 million votes, Mr. President. Ang Batanes for instance, 6,000 (to) 7,000 votes, you’re a Congressman?” Villanueva said.
“We cannot say that a party-list representative is equal to a senator, never. How many votes are obtained by the last senator now, Mr. President, 15 million votes? Batanes for instance, 6,000 (to) 7,000 votes only, you’re a congressman?)
“I don’t have anything against Congress again Mr. President. But can you really compare apples to oranges? Mr. President, it’s ridiculous also but for me the most insulting is the fact when our people asked to vote for our senators, they are aware of what they are voting for, national leaders po ito, national leaders, hindi pang-distrito, hindi pang (not for districts, not for) party-list representative. And now, what will happen? Are we talking about disenfranchising our voters now?” he added.
Adiong, however, disagreed with Villanueva’s views, saying that while the Philippine Congress is bicameral in nature and has different responsibilities, it was never mentioned that one house has a greater role or mandate.