House Leaders were dispeaed after Surigao representatives Ace Barbers and Propsero Pichay nearly came to blows during the first hearing on charter change by the Lower House.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was embarrassed by the incident.
"Well, nahiya ako," he said.
(I was embarrassed.)
The embarrassment is shared by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas who pointed out that he, Barbers, Pichay, Alvarez and even President Duterte were all colleagues in the 11th Congress.
"Oo naman, of course, it reflects on us. They are members, we are colleagues. Both of them were our colleagues in the 11th Congress. 'Yang dalawang yan, kami ni speaker, si presidente magkakasama kaming lahat ng 11th. Siguro masama after all the positive things we've been doing in the House--daily roll call and then smooth passage of the budget, may sideshow na ganito."
(Those two including speaker Alvarez and I, even the president, were colleagues during the 11th Congress. I think it's bad that after all the positive things we've been doing in the house--daily roll call and then smooth passage of the budget, there's a sideshow like this.)
Pichay on Thursday told the media that he plans to file a complaint against Barbers before the ethics committee even as he urged Barbers to apologize for the incident.
"I can forgive people like those. I don't need his sorry. I will file actually sa ethics committee for conduct unbecoming. That's a behavior that should not be tolerated by the house leadership."
Pichay also said, "dapat may magsosorry sa nangyari because that was very unparliamentary of Cong. Ace Barbers to be saying those words…not to me, to the institution, because you know this is an institution where everybody should act as a statesman, di ito palengke [This is not a marketplace]."
Pichay told DZMM on Thursday, "If it is senseless to you, debate why it is senseless. Di yung magsasabi ka ng senseless then you don't debate on the issue. Kinabukasan ng ating bansa ang pinaguusapan. Hindi ito nakukuha sa away. Nakukuha ito sa debate, magandang debate. Hindi naman paligsahan ng katalinuhan, lahat ng opinion ng congressman kukunin mo."
(We're talking about the future of the country. We don't address this by fighting. We address this through debate, a good debate. This is not a competition of intelligence. You should get the opinion of all congressmen.)
'JUST A VERBAL TUSSLE'
Reached by text message, Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers welcomes the ethics complaint.
"I've apologized to the people by saying that if my action is uncalled for, but no need to apologize to the institution cause I did not do anything wrong to the institution," he said.
Barbers spoke to ANC immediately after the incident and he characterized it as a verbal tussle.
"It's nothing more than a verbal tussle. It's just an altercation, not more than that."
Barbers confirmed he approached Pichay.
"Yes, I was going to my chair so nagkataon andoon lang siya. I approached him doon sa kaniyang inuupuan siansabi ko it has nothing to do with yung pinaguusapan namin sa committee."
(He was there and I approached him in his chair and I told him that it has nothing to do with what we were discussing in the committee.)
Barbers also said, "it was more of a personal thing if ever that action of mine was considered to be uncalled for. I would like to apologize to the people."
"Personal thing in the sense we've been sitting down there for almost two hours and nothing has been decided yet because a lot of motions…some of the motions were senseless, I just wanted to make things clear by telling everybody there including Pichay, di dapat ganun, dapat let's go straight to the public. (It should not be like that. We should go straight to the public.)"
Barbers confirmed cuss words were exchanged, "merong ganun di ko na matandaan. Inunahan nga ako eh parang ganun di ko kasi ...siguro we were both in a fit of anger. There are things we say and do. We don't remember."
(There was but I can't remember. He went before me and maybe it's because we were both in a fit of anger.)
Pichay, however, felt Barbers should have spared the House from personal grudges.
"Personal. Kung may galit siya sa akin, dapat we will settle it outside. Tumayo lang ako dinuduro tayo, I did not have an intention to go on a fistfight. Di ko naman din kailangan yung apology niya. I dont care if he's mad at me or not. Alam mo, dapat mahiya siya sa constituents niya dahil asal niya di dapat ganun. Sabihin ng tao, 'yan pala Surigao del Norte. Dapat pumunta siya sa Surigao del Norte, paliwanag niya doon kung bakit nagkakaganun, I dont know ano galit niya sa akin."
(If he has a grudge against me, we should settle it outside. I just stood and he began pointing fingers at me... I don't need his apology. He should be ashamed to his constituents because of his attitude. People might say "so that's Surigao del Norte." He should go to Surigao del Norte and explain what happened. I don't know what's his grudge against me.)
'BATA PA SI ACE'
Pichay believes Barbers' has an axe to grind emanating from local politics.
"Well, siguro dahil sa politics but I don't want to belabor the issue. Sa akin kasi, pulitika di ko pinepersonal yan. A lot of congressmen have been urging me dapat…magsampa ako ng reklamo sa ethics committee and I think I will do that. Siya mismo inaamin unparliemanteray yung actions niya. He himself admits di maganda ang ginawa niya. Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit may personal na galit. Dinadala yung personal na galit. I understand bata pa naman si Ace, there are still semblance of immaturity," he said.
(I don't take politics personally. He admits that his actions were unparliamentary. I don't understand why there is a personal grudge. He carries his personal grudge.)
This is why Alvarez said he would rather leave the matter to the House Committee on Ethics.
The Speaker said, "I think nasa ano na yun, sa ethics committee, sila na yung bahala doon [The ethics committee will take care of it]."
Asked if he plans to speak to his colleagues about what happened, Alvarez said, "Hindi na. They are old enough para maintindihan yung ginawa nila. Di na siguro, may ethics committee naman."
(I think it's no longer necessary since they are old enough to understand what they did and besides, there's an ethics committee for that.)
Farinas personally reviewed footage of the incident in his office Thursday, hoping the incident can lead to a happy ending.
"Well, I will have to talk to them and ask them what happened and perhaps if they can have a happy ending about it. Although, I read that Cong. Pichay is contemplating on filing a complaint before the ethics committee, that's his right. And on the part of the leadership, nagsalita na si Speaker so I'd rather not talk about it anymore he's the leader eh."
Farinas added, "I don't even know what was the point of the debate so I asked them to give me a copy of the transcript para masundan ko kung saan nagkagulo. Yung pinanuod natin kanina is about 30- second coverage. Hindi naman natin alam, I dont really know although I've heard from colleagues but I want to really follow kung saan nag evolve na uminit."
(What we watched earlier is a 30-second coverage but we don't know. I want to follow where things started to heat up.)
Farinas said he does plan to talk to the warring lawmakers individually.
"Next week na dahil wala namang session ngayon. Monday, one by one. Of course, Ill get their sentiments, ano ba tutuloy niyo ba yan tiga-Surigao kayo pareho magkakasama tayo pareho baka pwedeng lesson learned na lang, perhaps maski ako na lang mag-apologize sa public dahil part of the majority naman sila. Mag aapologize na lang kami sa nangyari."
(I'll talk to them next week because there's no session today. On Monday, I will get their sentiments since they're both from Surigao and we're colleagues here. So maybe it can be just a lesson learned and I can apologize on behalf of the majority to the public. We will apologize for what happened.)
Farinas added, "I don't know kasi yung root nung kanila I was told matagal na raw yan. I cannot say nag pagbabatiin ko but I'll try, of course. As a common friend, I will try."
(I don't know the root cause but I was told that this has been going on for some time now. I cannot say that I can make them friends but as a common friend, I will try.)
Alvarez reminded his colleagues to make sure this doesn't get repeated.
"Hindi naman siguro talagang na-damage pero hindi lang din talaga, well, negative. Hindi magandang panuorin hindi rin dapat nangyari pero siguro naman aahon tayo pagkatapos at hindi dapat maulit."
(Maybe it was not really damaged but it's not good to see and it should also not happen. Maybe after this, we can move on and it should not happen again.)