The Peoples' Initiative is dead before arrival

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

From the words of the presidential sister, Senator Imee Marcos herself, echoing the opinions of retired Chief Justice Hilario G Davide Jr, senior associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Constitutional Commissioner Christian Monsod and famous election lawyer, Atty. Romy Macalintal, the so-called Peoples' Initiative, which is actually a trapos' initiative, is dead before it arrives in the halls of the Senate. And so, let us bury it. And move on to find relief to the true cancer of the nation.

These so-called committee hearings chaired by Senator Sonny Angara, who is not even the Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Constitutional Amendments, are nothing but a zarzuela designed to please the President, who earlier summoned the Senate President and the Senate President Pro Tempore to the Palace. That summon, by the way, was a breach of parliamentary protocol as it undermined the independence of the Senate. We say these with due respect.  The Senate leadership should have known better than to surrender the principle of separation of powers. With the House under the leadership of the president's first degree cousin, and the Senate behaving in subservience, like that, then some fundamental constitutional principles had been abandoned.

Well, both the president and the senate president, as well as the pro tempore are not lawyers but they enjoy more than sufficient legal advice. They should have adhered to the time-honored principle of mutual respect between two co equal branches of government.

Even if the Palace is motivated by sincere intention to put a stop to the nasty bickering between the two chambers of Congress, still, we do submit that the president should show a basic respect to Congress. To summon the Senate President is virtually to undermine the senior representatives of the sovereign Filipino people in the Upper Chamber.

Be that as it may, the Senate is just playing games with the Palace too. There are really not enough senators who are supportive of the House moves to push for Peoples' Initiatives. More importantly, the Lower House did not act in good faith when it sought to push the congressmen's initiatives with a hidden agenda to sideline the Senate by insisting on a joint voting, instead of the two Houses voting separately. Such a surreptitious move angered many senators. The House keeps on passing resolutions after resolutions declaring support for the Speaker and virtually challenging the Senate to a head-on collision.

The senate majority leader, senator Joel Villanueva delivered a very strongly worded, and if I may say, highly confrontational and antagonistic privilege speech, naming some members of the House and linking them to some alleged shenanigans. Senator Joel questioned the House leadership allowing an alleged contractor to chair the Chamber's appropriation committee.  Earlier, the whole Senate signed a unanimous Manifesto virtually declaring the House initiative dead before its arrival. Then each Chamber continued with their respective press conferences whereby their respective members kept on hitting the other chamber's members as well.

With this word war and recurrent acrimony between the two Houses, I do believe that the People’s Initiative is now in ICU, in comatose stage, if not clinically dead. If so, let us bury it together and move on to address the real problems of the nation.

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