More senators up in arms over House Speaker's criticism of Upper House

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(File photo) Sen. Ping Lacson has hit back at House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for his remarks against the Senate.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 8) — More senators are defending their chamber from attacks and criticisms.

This comes after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez tagged the Senate "mabagal na kapulungan" (the slow chamber) for allegedly acting slow on some bills.

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon believes there is more to the remarks of Alvarez.

Senator Ping Lacson had strong words for Alvarez, saying his comments were "at the very least uncalled for" and "smacks of unparliamentary conduct."

Lacson added, "The Senate works differently from the House in what we think and act more independently as individual members...Nobody, not the Senate President and even the President of the Republic can dictate on us."

Senator Win Gatchalian reiterated the Senate's independence from the House and that all laws are passed meticulously.

"It's is not about quantity but more importantly quality of the legislation that should positively affect the lives of the people," Gatchalian said.

Drilon said the Senate leadership should stand up for the chamber against what he calls "unwarranted attacks."

"Dalawampung taon na ko sa Senado ngayon ko lang naririnig ang Speaker na bumananat sa Senado," he said.

[Translation: I've been serving in the Senate for 20 years, and this is the first time I've heard the Speaker attacking the Senate.]

In a radio interview over the weekend, Drilon said "Regardless of one's political affiliation, the higher obligation of the Senate President is to defend the Senate as an institution of democracy," he said.

READ: Drilon: No-election scenario unlikely in May 2019

Senate President Koko Pimentel, meanwhile, said he has done his duty.

"I feel I have defended the Senate already. Kung kulang pa [If it isn't enough], then all members are free to defend the Senate," he said.

Drilon believes the attacks were apparently meant to justify the Senate's abolition through Charter change.

He said, "Siguro mas madaling i-railroad yung mga kailangang i-railroad."

[Translation: It might be easier to railroad the things that need to be railroaded.]

Alvarez has been pushing for a unicameral form of legislature under a federal system, something that may risk giving up check and balance in law-making.

The Senate President will file a resolution within the week for Congress to convene as A Constituent Assembly to change the Constitution and adopt federalism

Drilon, meanwhile, is backing his Liberal Party's position that a Constitutional Convention is better than a Constituent Assembly in changing the form of government.

Alvarez is also raising the possibility of deferring the 2019 midterm election during the transition – a scenario Pimentel does not see for now.

He said, "Siyempre tuloy po ang eleksyon [Of course the elections will continue]. We are still under the 1987 Constitution.