Senator Panfilo Lacson, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Franklin Drilon. (file photos from InterAksyon and PhilStar)
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson lashed at Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for what he described as an “assault” that “is at the very least uncalled for and smacks of unparliamentary conduct.”
Lacson was hitting back at Alvarez for calling the Senate “mabagal na kapulungan” or the “slow chamber,” referring to its supposed failure to act on measures approved by the House of Representatives, such as the bill restoring the death penalty, which is opposed by several senators.
Ironically, Alvarez’s remarks also pitted Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III against the minority leader, Senator Franklin Drilon, who had urged him to “rise above partisan political interest to defend the Senate regardless of his political affiliation.”
“I have already defended the Senate by responding to what the Speaker has said,” Pimentel said in a message. “Why does he (Drilon) want me to continue (the) word war with the Speaker??? He (Drilon) belongs to (the) LP (Liberal Party) while the speaker and I belong to PDP (Laban). Hence, why should I do that?
Pimentel is president of the pro-administration PDP-Laban, Alvarez its secretary general. President Rodrigo Duterte is the party chairman.
Reacting earlier to Alvarez’s criticism, Pimentel reminded the Speaker that the Senate was not subordinate to the House and vice versa.
“A measure before it becomes law must pass both chambers. That is the basic principle. We have to respect the decision of each chamber,” he said.
In his reply to Alvarez, Lacson said: “The Senate works differently from the House in that we think and act more independently as individual members.”
“Nobody, not the Senate president and even the president of the Republic can dictate on us,” he stressed.
Alvarez, however, stood pat on his assertion, saying he and Lacson “are both entitled to our own opinions.”