Senate minority down to three in session hall, one in detention

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Senate minority down to three in session hall, one in detention
Sens. Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan and Leila de Lima (not in photo) are the remaining members of the Senate minority as the first regular session for the 18th Congress opens.
Twitter / Francis Pangilinan

MANILA, Philippines — As the Senate formally opens sessions for the 18th Congress, only four senators are left in the minority bloc.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said being part of the minority does deter them from carrying their legislative mandate.

Aside from Pangilinan, only Sens. Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon and Risa Hontiveros will be part of the Senate minority so far.

De Lima is detained at the national police headquarters in Quezon City due to drug-related charges that she has repeatedly said are politically motivated.

"We associate ourself with the Senate minority in the 18th Congress not because we are so-called obstructionist but because we believe that a strong minority is critical to a democracy," Pangilinan said on Twitter.

Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, pointed out that minority senators have also filed and worked on laws in the 17th Congress that have been signed into law.

These include the Revised Corporation Code of Drilon, the Free College Education Act of former Sen. Bam Aquino, the Mental Health Act of Hontiveros, the Magna Carta of Poor of former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, the institutionalization of the 4Ps program by De Lima and the Sagip Saka Law of Pangilinan.

"So even if the Senate minority is now only down to four members, we continue to serve as fiscalizers and maintain the balance in the Chamber," Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan stressed that the minority senators will continue to champion the welfare and future of the Filipino people in the 18th Congress.

The senator also expressed his gratitude to Liberal Party members of the House of Representatives who joined the minority.

Only six LP members chose to join the minority — Rep. Isagani Amatong (Zamboanga del Norte), Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte (Quezon City), Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. (Camarines Sur), Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong (Negros Oriental), Rep. Stella Quimbo (Marikina) and Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay).

RELATED: Makabayan solons support Abante as minority leader; Lagman abstains

The rest of the LP members chose to join the majority bloc in the House dominated by Duterte-allied lawmakers.

"We have listened to the rest who chose to join the majority, and while we disagree with their decision, we recognize that in the end it is a decision only they can make and we respect it," Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan said the members of the LP, both in the Senate and in the House, will continue to serve as a necessary check and balance of government powers.

"An independent and thoughtful Congress can carefully scrutinize bills such as criminalizing young offenders, restoring death penalty and even imposing martial law, and examining treaties that give away as collateral our national patrimony," he said.

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