PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — AFTER resolving the issue of committee chairmanships, Senate President Manuel Villar faces another contentious issue: the representation to the bicameral Commission on Appointments.
This developed after senators from the majority and the minority offered contrasting views on how the seats should be apportioned.
The Senate is entitled to 12 seats in the commission, in addition to the Senate president, who is ex officio (by his position) chairman of the appointments body, as mandated by the Constitution.
Villar himself admits that resolving the issue could pose a problem.
“That [assignment to the CA], has always posed a challenge,” Villar said.
“That’s the next major issue that we have to resolve, and also the representation to the Senate Electoral Tribunal. But we already have a preliminary proposal and I think majority agree to the proposed arrangement,” Villar said.
According to Villar, the proposed scheme for resolving the representation of the Senate to the CA would likely involve group alliances, saying this arrangement does not violate the provisions of the Constitution.
He noted that in the 13th Congress, the Senate has already adopted such a scheme to determine the allocations of Senate seats in the appointments body.
But opposition Senator Panfilo Lacson said his group is insisting on a faithful application of the constitutional provision and jurisprudence, that representation to the CA should be based on party affiliations.
“That is another contentious issue and you would likely see another heated debate on the Senate floor on this matter, because there are differing views with respect to the allocation of CA seats,” Lacson said in an interview.
“We [in the minority bloc] maintain that we should follow the Constitution and jurisprudence on this,” he added.
Under the law, a political party is entitled to one seat in the CA for every two senators.
“For example, Senator Joker Arroyo, he’s now Kampi, so he has no right to sit in the CA because he represents only .5 of a seat. Senator Santiago, she’s with the PRP and so she represents .5 seat also,” Lacson noted.
But Senator Juan Ponce Enrile said a strict adherence to the provision of the constitution on party affiliation as the factor in determining CA representation is not practical.
By party, pero you have to contend with the reality in the Senate. E hindi ko malaman ang mga partido dito, pero ’yung iba walang partido e.
Kung pag-uusapan ang partido, ’yung mga Lakas can get other people with them to get a pair. There are 24 senators, 12 will go to the commission. Every pair is entitled to one representation.
“Unfortunately, at the present time, the composition of the Senate is such that party has become an amorphous-blurred- concept. So we have to make do and find a way to define the composition of the representation of the Senate to the CA,” Enrile said.
“I was suggesting that we do it by groups, which in effect would be a coalition of parties,” he added.
Enrile said that while the arrangement is open to possible challenge in the Supreme Court, the Senate has the option to “devise a way by which they have to function.”