Joint resolution seeks extension of session days, disclosure of attendance in committee hearings
As legislative measures seeking to address people’s concerns are now starting to gather dust in Congress shelves, Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino filed Joint Resolution 30 which urges the leadership of both chambers of Congress to extend plenary session days until Thursdays, which would mean “more time to deliberate on socially-important legislation and to push for bills and resolutions that respond to the many diverse issues faced by our countrymen.”
The resolution expressly states that the House of Representatives and the Senate should conduct plenary sessions from Mondays to Thursdays in order to give due time to legislative work, which “remains to be the primary and most important task of legislators.”
At present, plenary sessions are held during Mondays through Wednesdays, with each session day lasting for an average of only three hours.
“I think it’s fair assessment that the present legislative performance leaves much to be desired. Provided with more than enough resources, Congress should step up and be more responsive to the needs of its constituents by devoting more time to more committee hearings and plenary discussions,” the youth legislator said.
He furthered that “the noticeable decrease of appreciation of plenary sessions in the House of Representatives has imperiled the passage of crucial legislation and resulted to missed opportunities for critical and sound debates on proposed measures,” the youth legislator said.
Palatino said it should be easy for both chambers to implement a four-day session week as it clearly stipulated in Rule XI Section 69 of the House rules that “daily sessions shall commence at four o’clock in the afternoon on Mondays through Thursdays and at ten o’clock in the morning on Fridays” while Rule XIV Section 40 of the Senate rules provides that “the Senate shall meet in session at three o’clock in the afternoon on weekdays.”
The youth solon noted there are only 84 session days in the current second regular session calendar as opposed to the 98 days during adjournment.
“Everyday, the Filipino people are burdened by problems arising from the spiralling economic, political, and social crises of our time. Poverty, hunger, joblessness, and decreasing political participation are just few concerns that are addressed by the government either through timeworn solutions or just sheer inaction. On the part of the legislative branch, it is imperative that genuinely responsive and effective policies be institutionalized through the enactment of laws that pinpoint the structural roots of these problems and provide solutions that would benefit the majority. Sadly, there is sound basis to observations that Congress not only appears to be lagging behind but remains an elitist institution incapable of upholding the interests of the oppressed majority,” the activist solon said.
Meanwhile, the resolution is also pushing the leadership of both Houses and concerned Congress offices to regularly publish the attendace records of solons during committee proceedings, as what’s being done in plenary attendance. Palatino said this should make legislators attend committee hearings as “it has also been observed that only few committee meetings are able to muster a quorum.”
“Committee work should be given more importance as it is equally vital to plenary participation. It is during these committee hearings that we hear the position, concerns and comments of concerned stakeholders to legislative proposals. Committee hearings are ripe venues for our citizens to engage our lawmakers on various concerns, a necessary component of democratic politics,” the resolution read.