What veteran lawmakers want to tell rookie senators

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2022 08:49 PM

MANILA — Three veteran senators on Tuesday gave a piece of advice to rookie politicians who may win in the senatorial race in the May 9 polls.

Study.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Sen. Panfilo Lacson have served in the Senate for more than a decade, and are now counting their days before finally bowing out of the chamber. 

Sotto said that anyone who decides to run for the upper House must be familiar with the job.

All incoming members of the Senate, especially those who have yet to experience the legislative process, must make sure that they know the chamber’s parliamentary rules and procedures, Sotto said.

This, he added, is to avoid mishaps the moment they participate in the proceedings.

“They (senatorial candidates) should have looked before they leapt, nevertheless, they must study and research on parliamentary rules and procedures,” Sotto stressed.

An effective senator should also avoid being absent, he said.

The new Senate must also be able to immediately “pass budget reform measures, the Land Use Act and a Corruption Free Budget,” the senate president added.

Sotto served in the Senate twice, first elected in 1992 and then in 2010. 

Drilon, for his part, noted that the Senate has maintained its “independence” despite a President’s influence.

He said he remains hopeful that the newly elected senators will help preserve the legislature’s identity as a bastion of democracy, citing the the Pharmally hearings as an example.

“My advice to them is observe first. Do not be overeager and stand up and try to debate. Makinig muna kayo. Huwag muna kayong sumali sa debate. Kasi masusupalpal kayo, hindi naman kayo handa, hindi naman kayo nag-aral,” Drilon stressed.

“Having been there for 24 years, I can tell you that we also have a learning curve. This is a collegial body… Hindi ka pwedeng magyabang diyan. Kung mayabang ka, mas mayabang yung dalawampu’t tatlong nandyan,” he said.

One should also be ready to get interpellated during discussions or plenary debates, Drilon said, because that is part of the tradition in the chamber with an aim to come up with strong and polished laws.

Drilon was first elected to the Senate in 1995, with his first stint ending in 2007. He in his second stint since 2010.

Lacson, meanwhile, stressed the need to “memorize or at least comprehend the provisions” in the Senate Rules “as if they are verses of the Bible to a pastor.”

An effective senator also requires having a good staff consistently backing him up, he said.

For Lacson, the next Senate should be able to pass into law the SIM card registration; revisit the Rice Tariffication Law; TRAIN2, “particularly the automatic suspension of the excise tax on fuel when the international price of oil reaches a certain threshold amount.”

Lacson first served the Senate from 2001 to 2013, and again from 2016 up until this year.