CIRCUS CHAMBER? | ‘Constructive feedback’ on Senate decorum part of democratic process, says Estrada

(NEWS 5) Several senators have spoken after former senator Franklin Drilon criticized some incumbent members of the upper chamber for their alleged lack of proper decorum that damaged the prestige of the institution.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada acknowledged the diversity in the current roster of the Senate but he stressed the importance of addressing the matter collectively.

“Constructive feedback is an essential part of our democratic process and the lack of decorum in our chamber has been a cause for concern. As public servants entrusted with the responsibility of representing our constituents, we must demonstrate the values we hold dear,” said Estrada in a statement.

Estrada, a colleague of Drilon in past Congresses, also expressed the belief that they can use the rules of the Senate to address “unparliamentary acts and language” of some members.

“We, senators, should strive to be role models of professionalism and set an example for our colleagues and future generations of legislators,” added Estrada.

Last Thursday, Drilon urged Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri to act on the comments that the institution has been receiving, noting that the public sees “an erosion of the prestige of the Senate.”

“Upholding and restoring the prestige of the Senate is a burden on his shoulder. And therefore, he must see to it that the trust of the people in the Senate as an institution remains high,” said Drilon in an interview with reporters.

Drilon, who served 24 years as a senator, also pointed out the “noisy” sessions and the habit of using foul language by some lawmakers.

Although the incumbent leadership has discretion in addressing these matters, Drilon said “the prestige and decorum” that the upper chamber is expected to follow must be duly considered.

“The Senate is one of the pillars that must maintain its position as a pillar of democracy. And it can only maintain its position if it has the respect of the people,” stressed Drilon.

In a statement last Friday, Sen. Robin Padilla responded to the criticisms by claiming that he and his colleagues are “not sleeping on the job.”

“Ang pagiging tao ng isang senador para makiusap sa kanyang kinasasakupan ay hindi isang kakulangan kundi isang pagpapakumbaba ng isang inihalal na dapat ay hindi mataas ang tingin sa sarili kundi isang lingkod-bayan,” said Padilla.

Last month, a video of Padilla went viral after he committed a mistake while making a motion during a plenary session. He eventually corrected himself after a fellow senator told him how to properly make a motion. In another viral video, he was caught repeatedly combing his mustache during a hearing.

Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa’s act of kneeling before police officers linked to the drug trade for them to tell the truth during an inquiry also did not sit well with the public.