Senate panel OKs list on priority measures

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri

The Senate Committee on Rules upheld in a meeting on Monday the existing committee system, affirming its legislative priorities to tackle the Rightsizing Bill, along with other  pending legislations creating a separate Department for Overseas Filipinos, Department of Disaster Resilience and Management, Department of Culture, and a Department of Water Management.

Chaired by Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, the Rules Committee agreed that “the bills may be taken up by their respective committees simultaneously,” adding that once the respective committee reports are filed, the leadership will then convene an all-senators caucus to “discuss their prioritization in the legislative calendar for plenary discussion.”

Acting on a motion by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon last December, the  committee proceeded to tackle an issue raised to first settle whether “a conflict in priorities may arise between the Rightsizing bill and the bills regarding the creation of new agencies.”

Asserting that “the Senate works through a committee system,” Zubiri reminded that “by practice and tradition, we have long given committees their sole prerogative and discretions regarding matters referred to them,” noting that “each committee has its sovereign right to bring out its committee report on a particular measure.”

Moreover, the Majority Leader clarified that “as to the prioritization of legislative agenda to be tackled on the floor, it is a matter of policy not explicitly laid down in our rules,” adding, “Prioritization of legislative agenda is incumbent upon the collective wisdom and discretion of the chamber and its members.”

Zubiri reminded that “the issues at hand are still at the committee level.”  “At the very least, we cannot determine yet if the committee reports to be filed will be conflicting. We cannot prematurely prevent or control a committee in transacting their affairs,” he said.

Zubiri clarified that “the Committee on Rules does not wish to interfere in whatever way with the committee system at work.” At the same time, Zubiri affirmed that “the Senate is a collegial body with a collective decision. On the priorities of the Senate, we will take this up with an all-member caucus to discuss priorities that will be taken up on the floor.”

At the same time, Zubiri credited Sen. Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Committee on Labor that endorsed passage of the bills creating the proposed Department of OFWs. “We laud Sen. Villanueva for “fighting for and being a staunch advocate of the welfare of our overseas Filipino workers and prioritizing and fast-tracking the bills on OFWs referred to his committee.”

The Majority Leader also assured that senators will honor the committee system of the Senate…“always remembering that over everything else, the priority of the Senate is geared toward measures that focus on health, economy, and fiscal discipline.”


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