Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, emphasized that the Senate’s role in legislation should not be seen as a mere rubber stamp of the Congress, in connection with legislative proposals that exclusively originate from the House of Representatives, such as local bills.
“The (Senate) Committee’s function is not merely ministerial,” Senator Bongbong Marcos said, in reaction to House legislators who advanced the view that the Senate should immediately approve local bills that are shown to have complied with constitutional and legal requirements. “If the Committee merely behaves ministerially in this regard, then we would allow up to 92 new provinces to be formed over and above the 80 provinces that we have now,” he lamented.
Under the Constitution, certain bills such as those with private and local application, and those relating to revenue and appropriation, tariff, and increase of public debt, and tariffs should exclusively come from the House of Representatives.
In defending the Senate version of the Nueva Camarines bill, wherein his Committee proposed a substantial change in the original version of the House of Representatives, the Senator cited a Supreme Court ruling precisely authorizing the Senate to either endorse the bill without changes, make changes in the bill omitting or adding sections or altering its language, endorse an entirely new substitute bill, or not report it at all.
“We must be very, very careful in starting this kind of trend where we just sit back and wash our hands,” Senator Marcos strongly emphasized. “There will be a rush of divisions that will be coming to the Committee and to the Senate that will be passed by the House of the Representatives, and at which point I think we can be very, very sure that the bulk of those divisions will be for political and partisan purposes,” he warned.
The Senator reiterated the sentiment as he was being interpellated on the floor by controversial Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a vocal oppositor of the moves to divide the province of Camarines Sur. The interpellation came moments after Senator Trillanes and Senate President Juan Ponce jolted the nation with their public display of hostility on alleged railroading of the Nueva Camarines bill by the Senate President.