Alvarez ashamed of Barbers-Pichay spat at House hearing | Inquirer News

Alvarez ashamed of Barbers-Pichay spat at House hearing

Speaker leaves fate of congressmen to ethics body
/ 12:22 PM October 13, 2016
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Thursday said he was ashamed of the demeanor of two congressmen who almost got into a fist fight yesterday during a heated debate about Charter change at the House of Representatives.

In an interview with reporters, Alvarez said he would no longer talk to the two congressmen, Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert “Ace” Barbers and Surigao Del Sur. Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr., or issue a memorandum against them.


“Well, nahiya ako (I was ashamed),” Alvarez said when asked how he felt about the incident.

Alvarez said the two are adult enough to realize the consequences of their actions and that he would just leave the fate of the two to the ethics committee.


Pichay said he would file an ethics complaint against Barbers for the latter’s unparliamentary behavior.

WATCH: Charter change debate ends with solons’ fight

“Hindi na, they’re old enough para maintindihan nila yung ginawa nila (No, they’re old enough to know what they did),” Alvarez said when asked if he would talk to the two congressmen.

“Hindi na siguro, may ethics committee naman (I guess not, there’s an ethics committee anyway),” he added when asked if he would issue a memorandum against them.

On Wednesday, the hearing of the House of Representatives constitutional amendments committee was cut short following a word war between Barbers and Pichay that almost escalated into a fist fight.

The conflict started when Pichay opposed a motion of Deputy Speaker Cebu Rep. Gwen Garcia to recommend to the plenary that the constituent assembly be a mode of Charter change.

Pichay said the Senate should be invited first about Garcia’s motion because the 1987 Constitution clearly states that it is Congress, not just the House of Representatives, which could amend the Charter.


“The Constitution says Congress, not the House of Representatives. The resolution should be amended to invite the upper chamber to join us as far as the direct amendment is concerned,” Pichay said.

“The Constitution says Congress upon a vote of three fourths of all its members. Saan nakalagay ang con-ass (Where is con-ass stated)?” Pichay said.

Barbers shot back incredulously at Pichay’s view, and urged the committee not to entertain “stupid” motions.

“This is a point of order. Let us not be entertaining senseless motions, those are stupid motions. Let’s not pretend to be constitutionalists here,” Barbers said.

The hearing was suspended after solons argued over the issue.

While the hearing was suspended, Barbers walked all the way to the seat of Pichay at the other side of table, and started pointing his fingers at him.

“P***** i** mo?” Barbers was heard as saying, tapping Pichay on the shoulder.

“Anong problema mo (What’s your problem)? P***** i** mo rin,” Pichay shot back.

Pichay then stood up and almost grabbed Barbers if not for Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, who broke up what could have been a nasty scuffle in the middle of a House committee hearing.

The two congressmen were also pointing fingers and glowering at each other before the security separated the two.

No damage done

Alvarez said he does not think there was any damage done to the House of Representatives as an institution.

But he said it was unbecoming for two congressmen to fight in the middle of a committee hearing.

“Hindi naman siguro talagang na-damage ano, pero hindi lang din talaga… Well, negative, hindi magandang panoorin. At hindi rin dapat nangyari,” Alvarez said.

“Aahon tayo pagkatapos, At hindi na dapat maulit,” he added.

(I don’t think there’s any real damage…Well, it’s negative, it’s not pleasant to watch. And it shouldn’t have happened.

(We will rise again after this. And it shouldn’t happen again.)

For his part, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Fariñas said as majority floor leader, he would talk to the two congressmen next week and try to compel them to make amends.

Fariñas added that he would like to apologize to the public on behalf of the two congressmen, who are part of the majority coalition.

“Of course, we will get their sentiment. Taga-Surigao kayo, parehong magkakasama tayo, baka naman pwedeng lesson learned na lang and perhaps baka pwedeng ako na lang ang mag-apologize sa public kas part of majority naman sila,” Farinas said.

(Of course, we will get their sentiment. We’re from Surigao, we’re all together here, perhaps we can just consider it as lesson learned and perhaps I can apologize to the public since they’re part of the majority.)

Fariñas said he was also ashamed that the two congressmen almost got into a fist fight that reflected badly on the House.

He added that Barbers, Pichay, Alvarez and he were colleagues in the 11th Congress with President Rodrigo Duterte when the latter was Davao city representative.

“It reflects on us because they’re members, they’re colleagues, both of them were our colleagues in the 11th Congress… Kami nina Speaker, si President (Duterte) magkakasama kami lahat nung 11th, so masama (Us, with the Speaker, President Duterte, we were together in the 11th [Congress], so what’s bad is that) after all the positive things we’re doing in the House, daily roll call, smooth passage of the budget, may sideshow na ganito (a sideshow like this happens),” Farinas said.

“I’m sure as adults, they will also learn from their mistakes,” he added.

READ: Arroyo rallies solons to support Con-ass

Pichay and Barbers’ fight stemmed from a heated debate over the mode of Charter change during the House committee hearing Wednesday. The lawmakers were debating over the two modes of Charter change–constituent assembly (con-ass) and constitutional convention (con-con).

The House constitutional amendments committee is tackling 26 bills for charter change following the call of President Duterte for Congress to convene as an assembly to propose amendments to the charter, particularly changing the form of government from unitary to federal parliamentary.

READ: It’s Con-ass, not Con-con

Duterte has preferred con-ass, or the mode of charter change under Section 1, Article 17 of the Constitution allowing Congress upon a vote of three votes of its members to propose amendments to the charter. CDG/rga

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TAGS: Charter change, House of Representatives, Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez, Prospero Pichay Jr., Robert Ace Barbers
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