Senators said Thursday it would be a worrisome development if President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter had a direct hand in the ouster of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
Senator Panfilo Lacson said if Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte influenced the change in House leadership, this did not speak well for the President’s leadership.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, on the other hand, said if the reports were true, it was unlikely that the President did not know about his daughter’s maneuverings.
“That is the reality that we face. That is not only true today, that is also true for the past administrations and congresses,” Drilon said.
Lacson said power or authority delegated outside the official chain of the government bureaucracy should not only be discouraged but challenged and checked at every opportunity.
“We should not have a repeat of our past experiences under the previous administrations from Marcos to [Aquino], where persistent talk of interventions and influence-peddling by relatives of sitting presidents did not help any in the efficient and smooth management of state affairs,” Lacson said.
Drilon said what happened in the House was “simply local politics translated and transformed into the national scene.”
“It is my view that what prompted the change is more of local politics than a policy difference,” said Drilon, doubting claims that the President was not aware of the reorganization.
“Such a major political move, the congressmen assumed, could only be done with the clearance of the President,” Drilon said.
He said the recent power struggle in the House was a sign of lack of any decent political party system as he pushed for the passage of Senate Bill 226 seeking to strengthen the party system.
Drilon issued this statement amid reports that members of the ruling PDP-Laban will bolt PDP-Laban to join the regional party organized by the President’s daughter.
SB 226 or the Political Party System Act, which Drilon authored, is among the bills pending in Congress, and aims to promote party loyalty, discipline and adherence to ideological principles, platforms, and programs.
“The episode in the House of Representative necessitates and justifies the passage of a political party system act,” Drilon told reporters during Thursday’s Kapihan sa Senado.
“We should pass legislation which will govern the political party in our system. Look at that, you know in a more mature democracy with a more mature political party system, that would not happen,” Drilon said.
Drilon also said that politicians switching sides every now and then does not surprise him anymore.
“I am not worried about that because after 2019 there will be again a lot of changing parties. You know, this political party system is so weak that the reports of politicians bolting from one party to another is nothing new to me anymore,” Drilon said.
“This only shows the lack of ideological commitment of the members of the party because they choose parties based on the rise and fall of the tide of opportunity,” he added.
Drilon explained that the bill primarily penalizes political turncoats by disallowing them to run under any political party for any elective position in the next succeeding election after they change party affiliations.
“Political parties in our country are normally used as political vehicles to win an election. Our political party system is centered on personalities rather than ideology and political platform,” Drilon said in the bill’s explanatory note.
Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima said the idea that Alvarez and the rest of the ousted House leadership should now lead the minority bloc in the House was preposterous.
“It reeks of opportunism up to the last moment of their fall from grace. The farcical practice that members of the same ruling party with the same allegiances to the President can simultaneously comprise both the majority and minority in the House must be put to an end,” said the detained senator.
“It is time that the genuine opposition lead the minority in the House and be recognized as such, instead of the same people who are rivals with the majority only as to who sucks up the hardest to the President,” he added.
The faction that was ousted “must eat their humble pie and let the genuine opposition consisting of allied LP and independent anti-administration party-list groups do the real work of fiscalizing in Congress,” De Lima added.
“This is how democracy works in the House, if indeed it is still allowed to so work under this government. It cannot be any other way,” she said.
The Palace on Thursday denied that the President had a hand in Alvarez’s outster.
“The President did not interfere. This was purely a decision of the House of Representatives,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
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