MANILA, Philippines — The Liberal Party is threatening to raise before the Supreme Court the decision of the House of Representatives not to give the party representation in the Commission on Appointments, a member said Friday.
Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III, head of the LP contingent in the House, has demanded an explanation from Speaker Jose De Venecia as he threatened to bring the issue to the high tribunal.
Oriental Mindoro Representative Alfonso Umali complained how De Venecia allegedly ignored his nomination to the commission by the LP based on the proportional representation for the commission’s membership as provided in the Constitution.
In its present composition, the House contingent to the commission has six members from the LAKAS-CMD (Christian Muslim Democrats), three from KAMPI (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino or Partner of the Free Filipino), two from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, and one from the opposition bloc.
“We will continue to call the attention of the Speaker and we’ll as for the clear interpretation of the Constitution from him. If he does not agree with us, we will bring it to the Supreme Court,” Tañada said in a phone interview.
He specifically questioned why the NPC got two slots in the commission when it has only around 28 members in the House.
Umali cited Section 18 of Article VI on the Legislative Department, which created the Commission on Appointments consisting of the President of the Senate as ex-officio chairman, twelve senators, and twelve members of the House of Representatives “on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and parties or organizations registered under the partylist system represented therein.”
Following this principle, the 21-member LP in the House should be entitled to one seat in the commission, Umali said.
“As it stands, the number automatically entitles the Liberal party to one seat,” Umali said.
“A resolution of endorsement signed by the 21 LP representatives and six non-LP members was submitted to Speaker De Venecia, but was ignored,” he said.
“The Liberal party believes that it is not a matter of political prerogative of the House Leadership to assign seats to the commission but it is rather a question of constitutional right and guarantee,” Umali said.
“Thus, it hereby expresses its disappointment and condemnation over the failure of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. to follow this constitutional mandate of proportional representation for the membership at the Commission on Appointments,” Umali said.
But Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor is unfazed by Tañada’s threat.
“That’s perfectly ok. It’s their right,” Defensor said in a separate interview.
Defensor said he had no idea how the House had chosen its contingent to the commission because his task was only to read the names of the nominees in the plenary.
“I don’t know, I’ m not the one making nomination. Tagabasa lang ako [I am only a reader],” he said. “I didn’t bother how the leadership determines the allocation of the coalition because there are many parties involved.”
Instead of raising this issue on the floor, Defensor advised Tanada’s group to just write Roberto Nazareno, the House secretary-general.