Monday, May 28, 2007

Beltran supports calls for 'Chamber Change' but says it's not just the House leadership that should change but the orientation of the legislative body

May 28, 2007

Beltran supports calls for 'Chamber Change' but says it's not just the House leadership that should change but the orientation of the legislative body

Detained lawmaker Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today issued support for calls for 'Chamber Change' in the House of Representatives, saying that there was a serious need to overhaul not only the leadership of the House, but the orientation of the legislative body as well.

"It's not only leadership of the House that should be changed, but the very orientation of the House of Representatives. Jose de Venecia has had four terms as Speaker of the House, and under his leadership, the House has not been an independent body from Malacanang. The major legislative measures that were prioritized and approved by Congress mostly originated from Malacanang and served to strengthen local and foreign business monopolies' stranglehold on the economy while attacking the economic welfare of the citizenry. Patronage politics and the 'palakasan' system are very alive in well in Congress; Malacanang allies get the biggest pork barrel allocations and membership in the so-called juicier committees," he said.

Beltran said that congress remains a bastion of traditional politics and where pro-poor, pro-people and patriotic national legislation hardly ever sees the light of day. "Progressive lawmakers have to fight tooth and nail to defend their bills and resolutions that aim to address the Filipino people's worsening poverty; but these same measures often do not leave the committee level; and those which do are butchered in plenary. HB 345 in the 13th Congress, for instance, was already approved but because of pressure from Malacanang and strait-arming of its allies in the House, the bill was recalled," he said.

HB 345 is the bill legislating a P125 across-the-board wage increase for Filipino workers.

"The image of congress being a pit full of alligators and boa constrictors has not changed in the collective mind of the Filipino people. What Filipinos need is a legislative body that will aspire to produce measures that will directly benefit the poor, uphold social justice and protect the economic, political and human rights of the majority. What we have now is far from ideal."

The activist lawmaker also expressed disapproval for de Venecia's intention to once more take the reigns of leadership in congress as House Speaker, saying that the latter's four previous terms are more than enough. Beltran has previously stated his criticism for de Venecia's silence on the escalating attacks on the progressive lawmakers of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women's Party. De Venecia has not defended Beltran's rights as a member of congress when Beltran was arrested on false charges February 2006; neither has he issued any support for Rep. Satur Ocampo when Ocampo was arrested earlier in March this year on equally fraudulent accusations.

"What we need is a Speaker that is not afraid to assert independence from Malacanang and whose legislative agenda is one that reflects the needs of the national constituency and not just his or her district and especially not those of Malacanang," he said.#


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