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Padilla: Rep. Rodriguez invitation deferred due to inter-parliamentary courtesy

Senator Robin Padilla explained that he deferred Cagayan de Oro Representatives Rufus Rodriguez's appearance at today's Senate Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes Committee hearing on the House-approved resolution seeking to push for Charter change (cha-cha) via a constitutional convention (con-con) due to inter-parliamentary courtesy.

Padilla clarified that the invitation was postponed, not cancelled, and disclosed that Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri told him to conduct the hearing with the congressman after an executive session.

"Bilang ako po ay nasa ilalim ng pamamahala ng aking pinuno, ako po ay sinabihan na i-move muna. Hindi po cancel. I-move ang pandinig ko kasama ang mga congressmen sapagka’t magkakaroon daw po muna ng executive session sa pagitan ng malaking kapulungan at ng mataas na kapulungan," Padilla said in a press conference.

(My leadership instructed me to postpone the hearing, not cancel, postpone the hearing with Congressional colleagues because there first would be an executive session between the upper and lower houses.)
"Kaya po ako ay nagsabi sa ating committee secretary na sabihan agad ang ating mga idolo lalo na po si Cong. Rufus Rodriguez na ating tinitingala na imo-move muna po at unahin ang executive session na sinasabi po ng ating pinuno," he added.

(That is why instructed the committee secretary to inform our colleagues, especially Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who we look up to, that we postpone the hearing and start with the leadership's executive session.)

Earlier in the day, Rodriguez said he was disappointed over the last-minute cancellation of the invitation for him to attend the Senate hearing.

“After inviting me last March 14, I received last night a notice of cancellation from the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes. I was already prepared [to] go to the Senate today at 10 a.m. to present to the senators the basis of our RBH 6 and HB 7352, which were all data-driven, evidence-based and future-proof,” he said.

Rodriguez said there was no reason given for the cancellation.

Padilla empathized with Rodriguez as he, too, was disappointed about the development. But he explained that he had no other option.

"Pag sinabi ng commander ko na si Senate President Migz Zubiri, susunod po ako. Malungkot ako di natuloy kasi gusto ko magkabakbakan eh. Ito talaga ang hinihintay ko. Para po kasi sa akin, ang mga ganitong issue talaga, marinig ng taumbayan," he said.

(When my commander, Senate President Migz Zubiri, says something, I follow. I'm disappointed things did not push through, because I had wanted to thrash the matter out. This was what I was waiting for. In my view, the public needs to hear about these matters.)

"Pero siyempre ako po ay bago dito sa pagiging mambabatas. Kailangan akong sumunod sa mga bagay na sinasabi nilang tradisyon at inter-parliamentary courtesy, yan ang tawag nila. Kailangan ko sumunod," he added.

(But of course, I'm a neophyte lawmaker. I need to follow these matters called tradition and inter-parliamentary courtesy, that's what they call it. I have to follow.)

Padilla said he did not expect any problem inviting Rodriguez to the Senate hearing because he already conducted a public consultation where two congressmen attended as resource persons.

The Senate constitutional amendments chairman said he would continue with the hearings on the House-approved resolution and would wait for the results of the executive session.

In a statement, Zubiri said he asked Padilla to postpone the hearing with congressmen to "heed the call" of Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga for a ceasefire on the "heated" discussions on Cha-cha and hold a caucus rather than airing their stand in public.

"Traditionally, the Senate does not invite incumbent members of Congress as resource persons, as they are accorded inter-parliamentary courtesy, being members of a co-equal branch of legislation. We usually invite representatives as guests, not resource persons, particularly on discussions of local bills," Zubiri explained.

"Being a neophyte Senator, the Chair of the Committee may not yet be fully abreast with the traditions and practices of both Chambers. But this tradition is to protect him and his committee as well, as we want to avoid a scenario in which conflicting opinions and heated arguments may take place, putting the Chairperson in a bind, particularly on how to rule on such discussions," he added.

The Senate President emphasized that he was not standing in the way of the Senate constitutional committee hearings and that Speaker Ferdinand "Martin" Romualdez agreed with him that inter-parliamentary courtesy should be respected.

Zubiri also clarified Romualdez's statement, indicating that the Senate President would keep an open mind on Cha-cha.

"I told him that I’m open to meeting with the leaders of the House of Representatives on this issue, and having a thorough discussion about it," Zubiri said. — DVM, GMA Integrated News