By Ellson Quismorio
The House Speaker’s very public tirades against the Senate have nothing to do with the leadership shakeup in the Upper Chamber.
This was the statement made by Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel this morning, or just before Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel announced his resignation from his position as Senate President.
“The comment of Speaker [Pantaleon] Alvarez regarding the slow passage of the bills in the Senate has no connection with the change in leadership in the Senate,” said Pimentel, chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability.
The Surigao congressman was referring to Alvarez’s criticisms regarding the way the Senate handles priority bills of the Duterte administration in the country’s bicameral setup.
During a press conference in October 2017, the frank and outspoken Alvarez called the Senate the “Mabagal na Kapulugnan” or the Slow Chamber due to his frustration over the pending bills sent there by the 292-strong House.
Then, in November, the Speaker called out senators again for holding up the passage of the President’s tax reform bill and the 2018 national budget. Both measures were eventually signed by President Duterte on December 19, 2017.
In January, Alvarez once again twitted the 23-member Senate, telling it to speed up workwise. “Siguro kailangan nang medyo bilis-bilisan din, para naman yung mga gustong gawin ng ating Pangulo ay talagang mailatag na (They need to speed it up so that the President can truly achieve the changes that he wants to do).”
To some observers, Pimentel, who is a reelectionist next year, has been “too kind” or diplomatic amid such tirades. This has apparently led to some movement regarding the Senate President’s seat.
But Pimentel reckoned that whatever action the senators take regarding their leadership is quite simply their own call.
“We have three branches in our government–the judiciary, legislative, and executive, and they are coequals. So the Senate is an independent body and if there is a change in leadership, it’s the members’ prerogative,” he explained.
Duterte chairs ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), of which Alvarez, Koko Pimentel and Johnny Pimentel are members. All four are from Mindanao.
Alvarez and Koko Pimentel serve as PDP-Laban secretary-general and president, respectively.