The decision of the House of Representatives to recall the third reading approval of a bill that seeks to institutionalize the 1989 agreement between the University of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense is in violation of the chamber’s rules.
Seven House members pointed this out after the Lower House approved a motion for the reconsideration of the bill that hurdled third and final reading on Sept. 21, 2021.
In a letter sent to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday, Oct. 4, Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, together with six Makabayan congressmen, said the Lower House erred when it recalled the approval of the measure during a session on Sept. 30.
House Bill No. 10171 sought to institutionalize the agreement that laid down the guidelines for the conduct of military and police operations inside the university.
Signed on June 30, 1989 by then UP President Jose Abueva and then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos, the Department of National Defense unilaterally terminated the agreement as defense authorities claimed that the campus has become the recruitment place for the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
HB 10171 was authored by Belmonte and the Makabayan lawmakers. It went through the legislative process before its approval on final reading on Sept. 21.
The authors said upholding the motion to reconsider approval of HB 10171 violated the Rules of the Lower House that allows such motion only on the same or succeeding day that the bill was acted upon by the plenary.
“Five session days had already passed since the deadline on Sept. 22, thereby making the reconsideration invalid,” the petitioners said, noting that the motion was acknowledged and approved during the Sept. 30 session.
“Thus we would like to put this manifestation on record in the Journal for September 30 and request that the move for reconsideration of HB 10171 be declared null and void,” they asked Velasco.
The bill was supposed to be sent to the Senate upon third and final reading in the Lower House.