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‘Under attack’

By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Apart from its lawmaking functions, the Senate is one of the pillars of democracy that plays an integral part in providing the necessary check and balance to hold our officials accountable to irregularities.

Hence, it is naturally quite saddening and alarming as well to hear that there are deliberate efforts to weaken the Senate and lay the ground work for its abolition to come out with a unilateral system of legislature.

This is highly credible information since no less than Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon believes the Senate is under attack to weaken and embarrass it as an institution.

The Senate has been bombarded with negative criticisms hurled against it by members of the House of Representatives led by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

The Senate Minority Leader allegedly sees the attack on the Senate as similar to the attacks being thrown against the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights, and the Supreme Court.

Drilon may not necessarily be right. Still, we all know all the trials and tribulations these institutions have been going through.

Drilon says he has already urged Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to be more vigilant in defending the integrity and independence of the upper chamber.

Although the independence of the Senate is being guarded seriously by the senators, Drilon expresses the belief that Pimentel must rise above partisan political interest in order to fully defend the Senate in spite of his political connection.

If not, he thinks the Senate will become immaterial and may even appear unimportant as an institution of democracy in the government.

Pimentel is the president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). On the other hand, the House speaker can be considered an ally being a member of the ruling party.

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To some people, having a unilateral system of legislature, if the Senate does get abolished, would mean members of the ruling party would get away with anything. No one could contradict them.

But before jumping to conclusions, everyone should never forget that the rule of law should always be followed no matter what. We have an existing Constitution that should serve as the guiding hand.

If there are changes that truly need to be accomplished that remain contradictory to our charter, Firing Line believes that the Constitution should first be amended with the public’s consent. Nothing could be accomplished with relevance without public support.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/