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House leader: Senate must walk Cha-cha talk

Macon Ramos-Araneta & Maricel Cruz

Senators reminded to honor ceasefire, self-imposed March timeline

House Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin on Thursday urged the Senate to “walk the talk” in its commitment to discuss economic Charter amendments and honor the ceasefire between the two chambers which Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri announced on Wednesday.

“The Senate should walk the talk, with due courtesy on them,” Garin said in a press briefing.

While she said she was impressed with Zubiri, she also acknowledged that “majority prevails” in Congress.

“Sometimes we get confused with mixed signals from the Senate – if what is being discussed is cascaded to the members because that’s how leadership should be. So, it’s good that the Speaker and our Senate President have already talked,” she said.

Garin also reminded the senators of their previous commitment to finish deliberations on economic Constitutional amendments by March.

“The Senate also came with their timeline that it will be completed by March. The only thing missing is for them to walk the talk,” she said.

Zubiri, who earlier said he and Speaker Martin Romualdez “have agreed to end the squabble and to continue to work for the benefit of the administration and for our countrymen,” appealed anew for professionalism among members of Congress.

“We should be professional when it comes to our work attitude and how we want to pass legislation,” he said Thursday.

“We can disagree on many points, but we owe it to the people to work together and set aside any personal differences to be able to work professionally to pass legislation to help our country. For the sake of the country, we need to do this,” Zubiri added.

On the part of Romualdez, Garin said the Speaker has appealed to members of the House not to be distracted by the political noise and to just continue doing their job.

“What he said is that business as usual, don’t get distracted [by the political noise] and if possible we do not dignify statements that will only cause division. But of course there are other members of Congress who want to answer accusations hurled against them,” she said.

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman also urged senators to do away with unnecessary investigations and political maneuverings, and instead prioritize urgency and efficiency in amending the restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution.

“If you love the Filipino people, you’ll work with a sense of urgency, efficiency, and very important, you will walk the talk. When you say you want to amend these economic provisions, if there’s a will, there’s a way,” Roman said.

Earlier, Zubiri, together with Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda and Senator Sonny Angara, filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 (RBH6) which seeks to amend three restrictive provisions of the 1987 Constitution – public utilities, advertising and education.

Angara, chairperson of the Senate subcommittee on constitutional amendments, has so far conducted two hearings on RBH 6. He will hold two or three more hearings to be held in Cagayan De Oro City or either Bacolod City, Iloilo City or Cebu in the Visayan Region. No dates have been set for the hearings.

As this developed, 30 Metro Manila lawmakers representing 14 highly-urbanized cities and districts have banded together to defend Romualdez from baseless accusations of some senators amid efforts to amend restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

“Let it be said, here and now, that we the undersigned Representatives from the National Capital Region denounce efforts to foment disunity in our nation! We call on all to respect each other’s positions and the voices of our citizens and their inalienable right to be heard,” the lawmakers said in a three-page “Statement of Solidarity.”

“Hearing the clamor of our constituents, we express our undaunted support for Speaker Romualdez who champions the efforts of the public for a lively discourse on the issues besetting the future of our Republic.”

Some 25 Surigao del Norte local government executives signed a manifesto of support for Romualdez.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas and lawyer Francisco Matugas, a former governor and former congressman of the 1st District of Surigao del Norte, led the local executives in signing the manifesto.

“Speaker Martin’s vision of a prosperous Philippines by shepherding measures that, in his own words, are ‘calculated to alleviate poverty, trigger economic progress and harness competencies in government for the delivery of the highest degree of service,’ has greatly benefitted Surigaonons,” the local officials said.

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