Senators not bothered by Speaker’s announcements on votes for federalism

Published January 19, 2018, 5:59 PM

by Nida Ramos-Oribiana

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Majority senators on Friday shrugged off the appeal of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez not to vote for senators who will not support the administration’s push towards federalism.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said it is but natural for Alvarez to issue such pronouncements, being a member of the ruling party PDP-Laban which has long been pushing for the government’s shift to a federal system.

Rep Pantaleon Alvarez answers question during a press briefing in a hotel in Pasay city.Alvarez said death penalty should impose to reduce criminality in the county (Photo by Ali Vicoy | Manila Bulletin)
Pantaleon Alvarez (Photo by Ali Vicoy | Manila Bulletin File Photo)

“Well, that will be the stand of PDP-Laban in the 2019 elections. Our Senate slate, as well as for the local slate, should believe in federalism. That was our oath of membership…So that’s right, you will hear the same appeal in the elections,” he said in a television interview.

Majority Floor Leader Vincente Sotto III, for his part, said he is not bothered by Alvarez’ statements..

“That’s okay. Negative campaigning is not disallowed. I’m not worried of issues like that,’ he said in a text message.

Sotto, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), maintained that he will “surely” campaign for his party’s Senate lineup in the 2019 polls.

The senator, citing his experience in politics, also downplayed threats from the House leadership as they “barely make a dent” on election campaign.

Alvarez in a press conference in Iloilo Thursday told the public not to vote for senators who do not support federalism, as it manifests that they are also against benefits that can be gained from the new form of government, including the solution to the historic conflict in Mindanao.

“Kaya tandaan niyo, yung mga senador na ayaw ng federalism, ibig sabihin, ayaw nilang umasenso yung mga probinsya at saka mga regions…Huwag niyong iboto yan,” Alvarez said.

Pimentel, on the other hand, said that discussions on federalism are “tedious” and requires a long period to have its provisions finalized.

Despite being an advocate of federalism, the PDP-Laban president admitted that he is “not 100 percent” convinced of their own draft.

“I am still not agreeing 100 percent with the product of our study group. We are still in a stage of deliberations,” he said in Filipino.

“When it comes to details, those who agree with federalism may be divided. There will be disagreements on its details,” he added.

While open to the proposal, other senators from the majority bloc have said that they are still weighing on the planned shift to a federal system of government, ensuring that the people–and not politicians–will benefit from it.

Pimentel also reiterated that the Senate will not yield to the assertions from the Lower House that the voting on Charter change must be done jointly.

The Senate chief echoed calls for a meeting between members of the Congress to iron out issues on their differences.

It can be recalled that senators unanimously agreed not to participate in any joint voting on Chacha; they pushed that they convene as a separate Con-Ass.