De Venecia’s P1-M travel allowance to neophyte solons scored

By Maila Ager
Last updated 03:58pm (Mla time) 07/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Instead of promising more perks for congressmen, a militant lawmaker has urged Speaker Jose de Venecia on Thursday to make all contractual workers at the House of Representatives regular employees.


Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran made the call a day after De Venecia announced the P1 million travel allowance that had been allocated to each member of the House.


During the orientation seminar of neophyte lawmakers on Wednesday, De Venecia also announced the approval of funds for additional staff of congressmen as well as the creation of a new building inside the Batasan Hills compound in Quezon City.


But Beltran said the House leadership should instead make all the janitorial and ground keeping staff regular employees, with full benefits, and improved health and dental services received by congressional employees.


“The House should get more dentists and doctors to see to the needs of the employees,” Beltran said in a statement.


By promising more perks for congressmen, Beltran said De Venecia had resorted to outright bribery just to secure support for his bid to reclaim his post in the 14th Congress.


“Quite tragically and shamefully the palakasan [influence-peddling] and padrino [patronage] systems are in operation,” he said. “In a more ideal system, it will not be the politics of accommodation that will be the primary selling point of any candidate for the House leadership.”


Beltran pointed out that despite these promises, De Venecia would not be able to get the support of the progressive partylist bloc.


So this early, the militant lawmaker expects to receive a “thin time” in the next Congress in terms of getting approval for their project proposals and requests for financial assistance for their respective legislative programs.


He also expects “greater political discrimination” against the progressive bloc when the 14th Congress opens on Monday.


“We will be denied the rights and privileges that are now being promised to the incoming new representatives and De Venecia supporters. For the sake of our constituencies who come from the most oppressed and exploited sectors of Philippine society, however, we can only hope that there will still be fair treatment,” he said.


“We remain committed to our work as progressive lawmakers, and we will continue to file and push for legislation of measures that will alleviate the people’s poverty and uphold civil liberties and democratic rights. We cannot do this and side with the administration at the same time — obviously, it’s serious conflict of interests,” Beltran said.


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