Acting in his official, not personal, capacity | Inquirer Opinion
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Acting in his official, not personal, capacity

/ 10:50 PM August 09, 2012

We write in response to Prof. Winnie Monsod’s column, “In contravention of letter and spirit of Charter” (Inquirer, 8/4/12), in which she discussed the issue of the representation of both houses of Congress in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) and the Senate’s current and previous decisions on the matter.

She said that Sen. Francis Pangilinan should have inhibited himself from pushing for the representation of both houses of Congress as early as the 14th Congress out of delicadeza. Senator Pangilinan was then ex officio member of the JBC.

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We would like to respectfully point out that Senator Pangilinan’s actions then were born out of his being the duly elected representative of the Senate to the JBC. He acted not in his personal, individual capacity, but in his official capacity and in consultation with other legislators, including then Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Senators Joker Arroyo and Edgardo Angara, among others. An official position was made based on Senate Resolution No. 41, which was unanimously adopted by the body.

To say that Senator Pangilinan should have inhibited out of delicadeza is to fail to appreciate the representative nature of the office he then held. It was not his personal loss, but that of the Senate, had he chosen inhibition. Thus, to say that he should have inhibited is misplaced.

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On the question of whether both houses of Congress are to get one vote each as provided for by the Constitution: No less than Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, has admitted that the body erred in providing for only one representative for our bicameral Congress. In his Inquirer column titled “JBC odds and ends” (7/2/12), Bernas said: “The provision was approved when the Constitutional Commission was still thinking in terms of a unicameral National Assembly. Thus, only one representative for the legislative body was provided for. After the Commission decided to go bicameral, no adjustment was made.”

He also said this was one erroneous provision “that escaped the attention of the drafters.”

It was the Senate’s position then that Congress, being a bicameral house, ought to have two representatives in the JBC. It was merely correcting an error committed by the ConCom instead of perpetuating it. To uphold the argument that Congress must have only one vote in the JBC is to perpetuate an error that runs contrary to the intent of the Constitution.

—RENAN B. DALISAY,

chief of staff,

Office of Sen. Francis Pangilinan

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TAGS: judicial and bar council, letters, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, winnie monsod
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