Fariñas asks MMDA to excuse solons from traffic violations during session

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House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas said if a congressman who is on his way to the House of Representatives hits a pedestrian, he should not be immediately brought to the police station. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas has asked the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to excuse lawmakers from traffic violations when Congress is in session.

During the House Committee on Transportation's hearing on traffic on Monday, he asked MMDA officials to give congressmen leeway, especially when they are on their way to the House of Representatives.

Farinas explained, for example, if a congressman is on his way to the House of Representatives and he hit a pedestrian, he should not be immediately brought to the police station. He said bringing the lawmaker immediately to the police station would hinder the congressman from performing his mandate to the people.

"Kaya nga po maski maka-commit ng offense, kunwari nakasagasa, nasugatan ang tao. Kapag nagpakilalang congressman 'yan, e di saka na huhulihin," he said.

[Translation: If he commits an offense, example he hits a pedestrian and causes injuries, if he is a congressman, arrest him next time.]

But he clarified that if the congressman has committed a major violation, he should be detained and investigated.

Fariñas also added, that if a congressman requested the MMDA to assist him, they should extend assistance as needed, to ensure that congressmen would be able to get to Congress as soon as possible.

"Kapag minor offenses, lalo na sa traffic, kung talaga naman at nagpakilala naman, kami nakikiusap sa inyo, nagpakilala, kung pwede ba escort-an niyo na lalo na pag sinabi na importante 'yung hinahabol nya sa Kongreso. Makikita nyo naman kapag papunta dito sa Commonwealth, paki-asikaso niyo na lang para matutugunan namin ang aming trabaho," he said.

[Translation: If a person has committed minor traffic offenses and introduces himself as a lawmakers and asks for escort to the Congress... You can see he is heading to Commonwealth. Escort him so he can do his job.]

Farinas invoked parliamentary immunity or privilege from arrest in making the request. Under the 1987 Constitution, legislators can be exempted from arrest for offenses punishable by six years or less of imprisonment while Congress is in session.

"Bakit nasa Constitution? Itong mga taong ito hindi mo pwede abalahin o arestuhin pag nagse-session kami. Kasi kami po ang representatives ng Filipino people," he said.

[Translation: Why is it in the Constitution that you cannot bother or arrest these people during sessions? Because we are the representatives of the Filipino people.]

Fariñas added when a lawmaker introduces himself as a congressman, the traffic enforcer should give him a leeway.

But he clarified that such immunity only applies when Congress is in session.

Farinas assured MMDA that after the session is over, the House Speaker himself would be willing to surrender the official who committed a violation.

"Ang aming rules, pag natapos ang session, isu-surrender ni Speaker ang tao sa inyo tutal alam na e," he said.

[Translation: In our rules, the Speaker will surrender him once the session is over.]

He explained that in the country, sovereignty resides in the people, and that congressmen are the people's representative. Hence, it is very important to ensure that they are able to attend hearings and sessions at the House of Representatives.

The Majority Leader added that he is very strict now, and those who are not at the session hall by 4 p.m. will be marked absent.