Sotto reminds colleagues: Respect resource persons during Senate hearings

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2019   •   1288

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – Reelected Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Monday reminded his colleagues to respect the rights of the resource persons they invite in their inquiries, saying they are primarily legislators and not prosecutors.

“We are not prosecutors, we are not Judges, our hearings had been known to be precursors of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and even self-injury. It should not be the case,” Sotto said in his speech after he was reelected through viva voce.

“The constitution expressly provides that the rights of the invitees must be respected,” he added.

However, Sotto was quick to clarify that respecting the rights of resource persons does not mean they will be soft on those lying to them.

“I only mean that our inquiries should really be in aid of legislation, although I also believe that those who lie in our face must stay in our premises or Muntinlupa if they continue to do so. What I am only saying is that we are legislators, primarily,” he said.

Sotto retained his post as Senate President after he was after majority of senators voted for him at the start of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress on Monday.

READ: Sotto retains post as Senate President

Sotto said the Senate will continue to be cooperative but independent and transparent on issues.

The senate leader also outlined some of the priority bills they will deliberate on in the 18th Congress, including the proposal to amend the Human Security Act of 2007 which will be called the Anti-Terrorism Act, the proposed Public Services Act, and the proposed national budget.

Sotto, meanwhile, sees heated debates ahead for the proposed revival of the death penalty. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Talks on ABS-CBN franchise will have to wait for next Congress — Speaker Velasco

Marje Pelayo   •   February 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Allan Velasco maintained that calls to revive the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN will have to wait until the next Congress.

In a statement on Thursday (February 11), Velasco said the 18th Congress only has a year until the 2022 elections.

Thus, he said, “The House of Representatives is bent on finishing the remaining priority measures of this Administration to ensure that President Rodrigo Duterte fulfills his campaign promise to the Filipino people.” 

On top of these priority legislation, Velasco said, Congress is working double time to accomplish priority legislation such as the passage of the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or the Bayanihan 3, as well as other economic bills geared toward rebuilding the Philippine economy following the impact of the global pandemic.

Several lawmakers have moved to revive the media giant’s franchise application by filing proposed measures to the same Congress that denied it in July 2020. 

READ: Duterte won’t allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise, unless…

Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that he will not allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise unless the media firm settles its unpaid taxes to the government.

Duterte certifies as urgent Senate bill creating Department of Overseas Filipinos

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent Senate Bill No. 1949 which seeks to create a Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOOF).

In a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the President said the proposed department aims to ease the burden of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by providing a more effective and ‘whole-of-government’ approach to safeguard their rights, welfare, and interest.

If created, the DOOF shall also formulate, promote, administer, and implement policies, as well as undertake systematic national development programs for managing and monitoring the overseas or foreign employment of Filipino workers.

The said bill has passed the House of Representatives but remains pending in the Senate.

Lacson, Sotto to Duterte: Don’t resign, just apply anti-graft laws to both friends, foes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Phillippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte should just implement the anti-graft laws to all violators instead of resigning if he wants to end corruption in the government.

READ: Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” Lacson said in a statement.

Lacson issued the statement after Duterte said he has offered to step down from office out of frustration over the rampant corruption in the country.

“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko yung lahat, sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government […] talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin,” Duterte said during his public address late Monday night.

The president’s remarks follows on the heels of fresh allegations of irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Duterte earlier promised to fire officials over just “a whiff” of corruption.

“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said that it is the corrupt officials who should be resigning and not Duterte.

“Dapat ‘yung mga corrupt sa gobyerno makaisip noon, hindi siya. He was elected by the country, he cannot turn his back on the specified task by the Filipinos! I don’t think he means it,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

As for Duterte’s offer to appear before a Congressional hearing to tackle corruption, Lacson said it may not be necessary.

“In fact, the Senate is already proposing in a bill to give him Bayanihan-like powers to address red tape in government,” he said.

Lacson was referring to Senate Bill 1844 which seeks to authorize the president to expedite the issuance of national and local permits and licenses in times of national emergency to address corruption and red tape in the government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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