Press Release
February 1, 2021

Senate Committee on Rules Upholds Committee System

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, headed a Committee on Rules meeting to discuss policy issues regarding the Senate's legislative priorities, particularly between the Rightsizing Bill, and the bills regarding the creation of new agencies, such as the proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos, the Department of Disaster Resilience and Management, the Department of Culture, and the Department of Water Management.

The committee, chaired by Zubiri, came to the conclusion that the bills may be taken up by their respective committees simultaneously. Once the respective committee reports are filed, an all-member caucus will then be called to discuss their prioritization in the legislative calendar for plenary discussion.

The meeting was called upon a motion made by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon last December, urging the committee to discuss whether there might be a conflict in priorities that may arise between the Rightsizing bill and the bills regarding the creation of new agencies. "The Senate works through a committee system," Zubiri explained. "By practice and tradition, we have long given committees their sole prerogative and discretions regarding matters referred to them. Each committee has its sovereign right to bring out its committee report on a particular measure."

"As to the prioritization of legislative agenda to be tackled on the floor, it is a matter of policy not explicitly laid down in our rules. Prioritization of legislative agenda is incumbent upon the collective wisdom and discretion of the chamber and its members." "The issues at hand are still at the committee level," Zubiri emphasized, referring to the bills in question. "At the very least, we cannot determine yet if the committee reports to be filed will be conflicting. We cannot prematurely prevent or control a committee in transacting their affairs." "The Committee on Rules does not wish to interfere in whatever way with the committee system at work," he said. And then, he assured the members of the committee: "The Senate is a collegial body with a collective decision. On the priorities of the Senate, we will take this up with an all-member caucus to discuss priorities that will be taken up on the floor."

Also present in the meeting was Sen. Joel Villanueva, who chairs the Committee on Labor that is handling the bills on the proposed Department of OFWs.

"We laud Sen. Joel Villanueva for really fighting for and being a staunch advocate of the welfare of our Overseas Filipino Workers and for prioritizing and fast-tracking the bills on OFWs referred to his committee."

"We will honor the committee system of the Senate," Zubiri said. "Always remembering that over everything else, the priority of the Senate is geared toward measures that focus on health, economy, and fiscal discipline."

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