Fariñas to enforcers: Don’t delay lawmakers because of traffic violations
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas on Monday called for lawmakers’ parliamentary immunity from minor traffic violations that might delay their attendance in sessions in the House of Representatives.
During the House transportation committee hearing, Fariñas called on the Department of Transportation to give lawmakers immunity from traffic violations, citing a part of the Constitution which reads that “A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session.”
During the hearing, Fariñas cited the impeachment proceedings in the lower chamber, during which some lawmakers would fail to register their vote because they had been stuck in traffic.
He also cited the strict 4 p.m. roll call, for which lawmakers might be late because they had been detained for traffic violations.
“Kasi kami ay representatives ng Filipino people,” Fariñas said. “Nai-impeach si Presidente. Magbobotahan kami sa committee whether he will be impeached or not. Eh bibitinin nila ako, titiketan mo. Hindi ako makakaboto o hindi kami makakaboto.”
“Pangaralan niyo ang mga tao niyo na kapag ang congressman papunta sa session, hindi po… lalo na po ngayon sa traffic,” Fariñas added. “Strikto po ako ngayon. Kapag 4 p.m., kandado yung pinto. Magro-roll call po kami. Eh sa traffic po ngayon, lalong kinakailangan ang probisyon na ito.”
Under House rules, he said, an errant lawmaker who had been given reprieve could be surrendered to authorities only after session.
The majority leader said there would no need for traffic authorities to take lawmakers to prison for a traffic violation, which would only prevent them from attending sessions that begin at 4 p.m., from Mondays to Wednesdays.
“Ang aming rules po, pag natapos ang session, isu-surrender ni Speaker yung member sa inyo, tutal alam na,” he said. “Kapag napakita na talagang congressman siya, wag niyong dalhin sa presinto. Kasi kapag dinala niyo sa presinto, hindi na siya makakapag-perform. Ito ay nasa Saligang Batas yan.”
“Kung murder talagang mabigat yun, imbestigahan na,” he said. “Pero kung mga minor offenses, eh di lalo na sa traffic na. Eh kung nagpakilala naman at kami’y nakikiusap sa inyo, escortan niyo na…. Kung sasabihin niya na importante yung hinahabol niya sa Kongreso, makikita niyo naman yun. Asikasuhin niyo na para matutugunan namin ang aming trabaho.”
In a message to reporters, Fariñas later said members of Congress would not be immune whenever Congress was not in session.
“Complainants can, of course, file cases and have them arrested when Congress is not in session,” he said. “Members of Congress are not immune or privileged from suits or cases, but shall ‘be privileged privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session’.” /atm
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