(MALAYA) SEN. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada yesterday called on his colleagues to serve as “role models of professionalism” after former Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon criticized what he said was the “erosion of the prestige of the Senate as an institution” and the “lack of decorum” among some senators.
“Each member should take responsibility for their words and actions, taking into consideration the impact they have on the Senate’s reputation and public trust. We, Senators, should strive to be role models of professionalism, and set an example for our colleagues and future generations of legislators,” Estrada said.
He added that “addressing the criticisms of a lack of decorum within the Senate requires a collective effort from the leadership and individual senators.”
Over the weekend, Drilon urged Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri to “draw the line” and direct senators to restore prestige in the Senate’s proceedings amid the lack of decorum shown by some senators during the conduct of sessions and committee hearings that he said has eroded the upper chamber’s credibility and integrity.
“With all due respect, and I hope my former colleagues are not onion-skinned, I’m compelled to comment on what the public perceives to be an erosion of prestige of the Senate as an institution, principally brought about by what is perceived to be the lack of decorum on the part of certain senators,” Drilon has said without naming names.
He likewise noted how Senate sessions and committee hearings have become noisy, with some senators even using expletives or foul words during committee hearings or sessions.
Estrada said Drilon’s observation should be taken as a “constructive feedback” and senators should not take offense to it.
“As public servants entrusted with the responsibility of representing our constituents, we must demonstrate the values we hold dear,” Estrada said, stressing that while the Senate is composed of “individuals with diverse backgrounds, ideologies, and experiences… I believe there are steps we can take to address these concerns and uphold the integrity of the Senate.”
He stressed that it is the collective and individual responsibilities of senators “to observe proper decorum during sessions or committee hearings.”
He noted provisions in the Rules of the Senate governing unparliamentary acts and language “and needless to say that a senator may also be called to order for a transgression of the Rules.”
Having served as Senate president pro tempore for six years (2007 to 2013), Estrada said he saw the importance of maintaining professionalism and respectful conduct within the esteemed institution.
As presiding officer, Estrada said he handled instances when emotions ran high during debates and “we, officers of the Senate, intervened to restore order and ensure that proceedings continue respectfully and productively.”
Neophyte Sen. Robin Padilla took exception to Drilon’s observations and said “new” members of the Senate have been taking their jobs seriously.
“The Senate now is not in the business of comedy because we inherited many problems facing the nation from the honorable senators who came before us. These are serious problems that need solutions,” Padilla said in Filipino on his Facebook account.
He said that the new generation senators come “from the masses and have their feet on the ground,” and that their work is not to be honorable looking for the public to admire.
He added that while the new batch of senators may seem noisy, they are not sleeping on the job or fiddling with their phones absentmindedly.
“A senator giving inputs during session is not a violation, but a parliamentary procedure allowed by the Rules of the Senate. A senator who talks to his or her constituents is not a liability but a humble fulfillment of obligations,” Padilla said.
“Our service should not be judged by the way we look but on who brought the government closer to the people. Get used to the new face of the Senate – young and no-nonsense,” he added.