SENATE President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and veteran Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson defended the Senate after ex-lawmaker Juan Ponce Enrile said his former colleagues are now practicing “coffee table legislation”.
Sotto insisted that the bills and resolutions in the Senate are being debated on, and scrutinized before approval.
“He must be being given wrong information. The bills in plenary are being debated and languishing in plenary before passage if controversial, and smoothly passed if beneficial or non controversial or if the bill is of local application,” Sotto said in a text message.
In a press statement, Enrile said there has been an increasing practice among some of his colleagues in the Senate of doing “coffee table” discussions of legislative measures instead of bringing it out for debate on the Senate floor.
Sotto disagrees. He cited the deliberations they made on the coco levy bill, rice tariffication bill, Bangsamoro Organic Law, Philippine ID system, revised corporation code, amendments to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas charter, tax amnesty, end of contract bill, universal health care bill, anti-discrimination bill, among others.
He said that as of December 13, 2018, they have passed 95 bills which have been signed into law while 85 are for approval of the President.
He then goes to praise the current Senate as the “most prolific” with the most number of bills that became law.
“Pag chineck mo from the previous years up to now, perhaps even as early as 1987, up to now, ito na ang pinakaprolific na Senate, pinakamarami ito, sa dami ng mga bills, na naging batas, at saka mahahalagang batas na naka-pending, and this is credited to the entire Senate, that includes the leadership from Senator (Aquilino) Pimentel III to myself,” he said.
Senator Lacson did not take Enrile’s comment lightly and has some choice words for the former Senate President who seeking re-election in 2019.
“I don’t know what ‘coffee table’ legislation he’s talking about. He (Enrile) may have been out too long or he has forgotten how legislation works,” Lacson said in a message to reporters.
Lacson reminded Enrile that right now there is a controversy in the Senate concerning “pork barrel” that results in long debates in the plenary. Enrile was arrested and detained for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.