Confusion, Disorder Reign in Senate.(Main News)

Manila Bulletin, June 25, 2002 | Go to article overview

Confusion, Disorder Reign in Senate.(Main News)


Byline: MARIO B. CASAYURAN

Confusion and disorder reign in the divided Senate as employes do not know whom to follow, unable to determine who is right and which is the rightful order.

This is because Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, head of a 12-man administration bloc, and lawyer Demaree J. B. Raval, elected as secretary of the Senate by the 12-man Angara-Pimentel group in its regular session last June 3, continue to countermand each other's directives and orders.

The confused state of the 24-member Senate was expected to persist if the administration and opposition blocs with 12 members each do not sit down and resolve the impasse on or before the July 22 formal opening of the second regular session of the 12th Congress.

The controversy began when Sen. John Osmena, protesting Senate inaction on his efforts to investigate the Power Purchase Adjustment (PPA) charges, left the 13-man majority bloc in the Senate led by Senate President Drilon and joined the minority which thus became a 12-member group.

Since Sen. Ramon Revilla was in the United States, the Drilon group had only 11 senators present. Thus the 12-man Angara-Pimentel group proceeded to revamp the Senate as the new majority, without however replacing Drilon, as it takes 13 votes to elect a Senate president.

Drilon and his group have refused to acknowledged the legality of the revamp. The other day, he issued an order declaring that only acts of the pre-revamp leaders are legal.

Raval said, however, that the Land Bank of the Philippines is following a resolution passed by new Senate under its new leadership that "all expenditures and disbursements of the Senate presently requiring the approval and signature of the Senate President alone shall be approved and signed jointly with the Majority Leader (Aquilino O. Pimentel Jr.), except the regular salaries, allowances, and emoluments accruing to all Senate officers and employees both in the Senate and the Senate proper."

Senate Minority Leader Aquillion Q. Pimentel Jr. was elected as Senate majority leader of the Angara-Pimentel group during its regular session last June 3 which the Drillon group tagged a "rump session." He replaced Sen. Loren Legarda Leviste as the third most ranking Senate official.

Being affected by the "war" are several Senateprojects, particularly the computerization program which was scheduled to be bidded out this month but is now put off indefinitely as it requires an approval from the Senate accounts committee.

Senators of both the administration and opposition blocs claim legitimacy of their groups and over their chairmanships of the committees made before and during the contested June 3 Senate reorganization that followed the Angara-Pimentel bloc coup.

In his latest memorandum, this time to Rodrigo Noel A. Gonzales, chief of the Senate human resources and management service, Raval reiterated his instructions regarding withholding of the salaries, benefits, and other emoluments of officers whose positions were declared vacant on June 5 and the coternimus support staff of the administration senators who were replaced by opposition senators as chairman of various committees.

The administration chairmen replaced by the opposition legislators were Senators Joker Arroyo, Robert Z. Barbers, Noli de Castro, Renato Cayetano, Ramon Revilla, Juan Flavier, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, and Manuel Villar.

As in his other circular, Raval reminded Andrew Arrita, executive director, administration and finance, "of the consequences to your office, and to you as well, of any unauthorized disbursement in favor of persons who by authority of the Senate resolutions, are no longer officers in the Secretariat. …

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