Makabayan bloc: We’ll watch how Escudero, Senate tackles issues

Makabayan bloc: We’ll watch how Senate under Escudero tackles issues

/ 10:50 PM May 20, 2024

House of Representative’s Makabayan bloc —Inquirer photo/Niño Jesus Orbeta

MANILA, Philippines — While they welcome the changes in the Senate’s leadership, members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representative have vowed to keep a watchful eye on how the upper chamber of Congress will tackle different issues.

In a statement on Monday—hours after Senate President Francis Escudero was elected—House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro said they are hoping that the Senate will now have a definitive stand against Charter change (Cha-cha), and regarding pressing issues like the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).


“We welcome the change in leadership in the Senate and hope that this development will pave the way for a more definitive stand against Charter change and other anti-people measures,” Castro said.


“We hope that the Senate will now focus on junking the problematic (PUVMP) and rejecting fascist moves such as the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC),” she added.

READ: Chiz Escudero is new Senate president; Miguel Zubiri out

Castro also mentioned other topics of discussion like higher wages for workers, better transportation systems, and possibly rejecting “policies that only serve the interests of a few”.

“We will continue to monitor the developments in the Senate and push for a more pro-people agenda that truly serves the interests of the Filipino people,” she noted.

READ: House member to Sen. Villanueva: Stick to issues, drop arrogance

Admin agenda

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel meanwhile expressed concerns as to whether former Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri’s resignation was due to not meeting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.—questioning if the changes were meant to allow the administration to move on with its agenda.


“Based on the Privilege Speech of Senator Zubiri, he resigned as a Senate president because he had a hard time lining up the Senate to the whole legislative agenda of the Marcos Jr. administration. Priority bills of the administration, especially the Charter change, have moved slowly in the Senate—that’s why we saw an intense word war between Marcos allies in the House and the Senate,” Manuel said.

READ: Garin thinks ‘some’ pray 2025 polls noise to bury Charter change talks

“(It seems) the goal of changing the Senate leadership was to decrease the spaces given to the pro-Duterte lawmakers to move within the chamber […] The youth are now watching where Senator Chiz Escudero would position himself as the new Senate President on issues like Cha-cha and other proposed bills that would affect the youth,” he added.

Manuel said they are daring Escudero to listen to the youth’s plea to the Senate—to junk Cha-cha and the mandatory ROTC, and to stop militarization in the West Philippine Sea.

“The youth is daring Senate President Chiz Escudero to listen to the long standing call to junk Charter Change and stop the passage of a Mandatory ROTC.  The youth will be watching any attempts to steer the Senate, especially from the Malacañang, to control the whole Congress and rush anti-people laws,” he noted.

READ: Romualdez upbeat on House partnership with Senate under Escudero

Earlier, Escudero was elected earlier as Senate President having no other members being nominated, replacing Zubiri.  According to Zubiri, he believes that the moves to oust him were orchestrated because he failed to follow directives.

Love-hate relationship

The shakeup in the Senate comes after months of speculation about a possible coup, and the love-hate relationship between the House and the Senate.

In the first quarter of 2024, the House and the Senate were locked in a verbal spat due to charter change proposals.  The House leadership, particularly Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., said that they will entertain People’s Initiative (PI) petitions as other modes of amending the 1987 Constitution have not prospered in the Senate.

The Senate however questioned the rationale of the PI, with Villanueva eventually claiming that the petition seeks to abolish the Senate.  When the House lawmakers maintained that there is no bid to abolish the upper chamber, Villanueva was criticized for supposedly belittling lawmakers for being elected with fewer votes.

Eventually, when the House and the Senate agreed to push for the same economic amendments to the Constitution, the scheduling of discussions became an intense topic.

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Romualdez meanwhile thanked Zubiri for his work for the past two years, while noting that he is confident that the two chambers can strengthen the legislative agenda of President Marcos’ administration with the Senate under Escudero’s helm.

TAGS: Francis Escudero, Makabayan bloc

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