Senate minority to serve as guardians of public interest—Recto
As the new Minority Leader in the Senate, Senator Ralph Recto said he would rather characterize their role in the new minority group in the chamber as “guardians of public interest” rather than as an opposition.
Recto assumed the post after losing the Senate presidency race to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III during the opening of the 17th Congress Monday morning.
READ: Koko Pimentel takes Senate presidency by 20-3 vote
In a speech, the new Minority Leader described the role that they would play in the chamber. The two other members of the minority bloc are Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV.
READ: Recto will be Senate minority leader—Trillanes
“A senator who had come before us once said that there is no greater learning experience in lawmaking than to be in the minority where one is always outnumbered in voting but is never outfought in debates,” he said.
“So to the question as to how I would dispense my duties as a minority leader, you have provided the answer by the way you have performed them in the past : resolute but responsible, critical yet constructive, proposing solutions rather than merely identifying problems,” said Recto.
He said the beauty of having 24 independent minds in the Senate was that the majority-minority divide “dissolves on bills it tackles as a sovereign would vote based on merits of the proposal and never on political affiliation.”
Senators of the republic, he said, don’t deposit their principles at the door and allow the void to be filled by the party in power.
“Often, the most incessant opposition to a bill actually comes from within the majority. And it had also happened in the past that the most ardent support for a Palace-backed measure comes not from its allies but from across the aisle,” Recto said.
“What does this mean? It simply means that in Senate dynamics, minority should never be automatically equated as opposition, for it is a false characterization of its role.”
“I would rather see its role as guardians of the public interest which solely guides its actions here,” he said.
If the agenda of the majority serves the public interest, then Recto said, its correct stance is to cooperate.
“Oppose-for-opposing sake is a bankrupt ploy which has never prospered in this marketplace of ideas,” he said.
But if the agenda of the majority would harm the people and hurt the nation, then Recto said, the minority is duty-bound to oppose it.
“And when that happens, we in the minority will try to convince you, not by the shrillness of our voice, but by the soundness of our arguments, because reasoning should rely more on facts than on flair,” he said.
“This is one Senate minority, I assure you, that will know when to stand its ground, and when to seek common ground,” he further said.
Recto said there are more that bind than separate the majority and the minority at the Senate.
The minority, for instance, he said, is willing to do its share in putting in its inputs so bills would evolve into superior pieces of legislation.
“We will also put forward our ideas, and we would solicit yours, because though we humbly know that our proposals are great, we don’t have a monopoly of good intentions,” he said.
“I envision our role as quality control inspectors, on the lookout for weaknesses, subjecting every bill to a stress-test, so it is assured of trouble-free implementation. We will also do our role to identify moral hazards, and demarcate them as no-go zones for all of us.”
“There is one area, however, where we should work together – and that is to defend the institution from any and all attempts to emasculate it,” Recto added. IDL/rga
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