Sotto hits talks of Charter change sans Senate

MANILA Breaking the tradition, Senate President Vicente Tito Sotto III on Monday opened the Third Regular Session of the 17th Congress not with the usual chamber's achievements in the past regular session but with a strongly worded message on the Senate's importance amid proposals of approving a federal charter even without the participation of the Senate.

In his speech, Sotto stressed that as set forth in the 1987 Constitution, the legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives

The use of the word 'shall' as any student of law learns early in his studies means that it is compulsory, the Senate leader said.

As such, he said the Senate is essential in any and all matters pertaining to legislation, even in mere changing the names of schools and roads.

He also pointed out that while the Constitution provides that Senate is composed of only 24 senators, and the House of Representatives of not more than 250 members, claiming that the procedure of the legislative department is a purely numbers game is to miss the point big-time.

Sa maliliit na bagay kailangan kami. Pero sa pag-iiba ng Konstitusyon ng Pilipinas hindi kailangan ang Senado (We are needed in small things, but we are not needed in changing the Philippine Constitution)? Sotto remarked.

If our consent is needed in small things, more so in bigger things, Sotto added.

He said it is not his intention to preside over an unnecessary body of the Legislative Department of the Philippine Republic.

To say or even insinuate that we are unnecessary and irrelevant is unacceptable. I don't wish to preside during my watch over the necrological services of the Philippine Senate. Especially so today, when we are confronted with a number of momentous choices affecting our nation, Sotto said.

He was referring to the ideas of shifting from a presidential to parliamentary form of government; a unitary Republic or a federal system; and transforming the regions or other groupings into federal states.

The Senate is the forum, the ring, within which these ideas will struggle for supremacy. It is the stage where these ideas are proposed and debated. And finally, it is the rostrum from which far-reaching decisions are promulgated, he added.

Sotto said the Senate has an integrity to defend and an honor to die for.

The memories of the giants who sat in this august hall will forever hound us if we drop the ball at this crucial hour, Sotto said.

He then urged his colleagues to listen with our hearts and minds when President Rordrigo Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address later in the afternoon.

And afterwards, we shall do what is best for our country, in our mandated role as the Senate of the People of the Philippines, Sotto said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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