Estrada on correcting Maharlika Bill: Secretariat not allowed to alter bills

(GMA NEWS) The Senate secretariat is not allowed to correct any content, even punctuation marks, in bills, Senator Jinggoy Estrada said.

The lawmaker made the remark after Senate Secretary Renato Bantug Jr. disclosed that the double provisions on the prescription period in the Maharlika Investment Fund Bill was fixed by merging them.

The Senate version of the bill, which was eventually adopted by the House of Representatives, included two sections on the prescriptive period.

The draft bill passed on the Senate floor provides a 10-year prescriptive period for crimes punishable under the measure, while another section in the same bill provides for a 20-year prescriptive period.

“If you call me as a veteran senator, what I understand sa tagal ko dito you cannot alter not even a period, not even a comma, ‘yan ang aking pagkakaintindi,” Estrada, a former Senate President Pro Tempore, said at the Kapihan sa Senado.

Asked if the Senate secretariat could fix it, the lawmaker responded: “Hindi pwede.”

“Parang di yata tama ‘yon,” the senator said on the merging of the two sections on prescriptive period.

Last week, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri signed the MIF bill despite the flagged errors in the measure.

Asked how the Senate addressed the double provisions on the prescriptive period in the MIF bill, Zubiri said: “I believe the corrections were thoroughly discussed by the majority bloc in our Viber group, including the correction sent by Senator Mark Villar.”

But Estrada said he was never consulted on the matter.

He said he was part of the Viber group that Zubiri had mentioned but he was not able to read the discussion on addressing the double provisions in the MIF bill.

Asked if the bill should be referred back to the Senate plenary, Estrada said it is Zubiri who should answer that.

After the bill was signed by Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said that there was “high chance” that the MIF bill would be declared unconstitutional— DVM, GMA Integrated News